|Artificial body parts created by 3D printers could someday replace the less realistic dummies and human cadavers used in military medical training.
CREDIT: U.S. Department of Defense | Fred W. Baker III
American medical students gave up robbing graves for dead bodies several centuries ago, but physicians still need human corpses for anatomy class and practicing surgery. The U.S. Army’s own physicians have their eyes set on a more futuristic solution — 3D printers capable of making artificial human body parts such as muscle, bone and even organs.
Such artificial body parts would “ideally not be actual biological tissues,” but instead would consist of materials that could physically simulate the feel of flesh and bone. Success in printing out entire body part sections containing bone, muscle, skin and blood vessels could lead to lower medical training costs and cut back on the need for animal or human cadavers.
“If such technology were possible, a wide variety of human anatomy sections could be printed on demand,” according to a U.S. Defense Health Program solicitation for small business issued on May 11.
The 3D-printed artificial body parts would also ideally allow for normal CT or MRI medical scans, so that physicians could practice interpreting the scan images before diving in with scalpels. The U.S. military effort could also presumably benefit American physicians and medical schools back on the home front.
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