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Invention helps students learn surgical techniques before operating on patients
Date:11/19/2010

FORT COLLINS - In the last 50 years, modern medicine has made astounding advances in surgery, yet many of today's veterinary and human medicine students still hone basic surgical and suturing skills on carpet pads and pig's feet before transitioning to a live patient. An invention by Colorado State University veterinarians provides students with artificial body parts that look, feel, behave, and even bleed just like real skin, muscles and vessels.

The artificial replicas of sections of human and animal bodies -- such as an abdominal wall -- give students a realistic learning environment that will bridge the gap between classroom lectures and procedures such as surgical cuts and sutures on real human or animal patients.

"It is a significant, stressful leap for medical and veterinary students from the classroom to the surgery suite," said Dr. Dean Hendrickson, a veterinarian and director of CSU's Veterinary Teaching Hospital and one of the inventors. "Industry standards for training sometimes actually teach incorrect techniques, or skills that don't translate into real-world situations, so students don't have the ability to realistically prepare for surgery before a live patient. These artificial simulations help students master their technique, dexterity and confidence before they operate for the first time on a person or someone's pet."

The artificial tissues consist of layers of silicone that closely simulate skin, connective tissue and muscle. Built into the silicone are realistically placed and sized "blood vessels" that are connected to an artificial blood source that supplies the tissue with realistic bleeding. For example, students practicing sutures will experience blood coming into a wound or incision from both sides of the tissue at realistic locations and rates.

Some models are colored realistically, such as a brown-skinned abdominal wall of a horse, with white layers and red layers representing muscles and tissues.
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Contact: Dell Rae Moellenberg
dellrae.moellenberg@colostate.edu
970-491-6009
Colorado State University
Source:Eurekalert

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