3D Printing in Clinical Simulation for Improved Education and Training

Article by Kelly Clancy updated November 10, 2016


3D Printing can reduce costs, improve patient care and increase speed at nearly every step in the medical innovation value chain. This results in improved profitability, increased technology adoption and agile market responsiveness. Stratasys 3D printing solutions enhance the outcomes and economics of medical solutions.

Together, three institutions are shaping the future of vascular health care and medical device development with the use of 3D printing technology. The Jacobs Institute, Gates Vascular Institute (GVI) and University at Buffalo’s Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC) share a collective vision to design and establish a vascular care center of the future. This co-location of a private hospital system and university research center helps researchers and clinical practitioners develop cutting-edge medical solutions. As a platform for research, 3D printing unlocks new opportunities to advance vascular care. Stratasys has been a partner of the collaborative medical facility since inception, providing doctors and researchers with the most advanced medical modeling options in the world. 3D printing provides the tools to develop and validate the next generation of vascular devices and create optimal therapeutic plans to treat complex diseases.

Advanced Training Techniques

Surgical education and training previously relied on textbook illustration, 2D scans, animal testing and an apprenticeship model that involved long observation periods prior to hands-on experience with rare procedures. Recent 3D printing advances provide doctors and researchers the tools to create patient and condition-specific anatomy models for education and research.

We use 3D printing technology and materials to create a lifelike vascular environment that isn’t achievable any other way,” said Mike Springer, director of operations and entrepreneurship at the Jacobs Institute.

Instead of waiting to train on new procedures, physicians at the Jacobs Institute use 3D printed models of patients with stroke, clots, aneurysms and other pathologies to develop surgical skills in a no-risk environment. Models are customized to present a range of anatomies so physician participants are exposed to the limits of what they will see when treating living patients.

“3D vascular models represent a new paradigm for training the next generation of doctors. This paradigm includes surgical and endovascular simulation and skills evaluation before they are allowed to treat patients,” said Dr. L. Nelson Hopkins, founder of the Jacobs Institute and the Gates Vascular Institute. Training on 3D printed models can be done virtually anywhere, avoiding the cost and complexity of operating in the controlled environments required for animals and human cadavers. Facilities with bio hazard controls, refrigeration storage or on-site care are not required, lowering training costs significantly.

3D Printing Medical Education

Evaluating a patient-specific heart model during a surgery dry-run prior to treating the patient.

The Future of 3D Printing in Health Care

Through its collaboration with GVI and CTRC, the Jacobs Institute is harnessing the power of a 3D printing platform in all aspects of health care. From training physicians to designing and testing life-saving devices, from preparing for surgery to conducting life-changing research, 3D printing is an indispensable tool for the future of medicine.

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Kelly Clancy

Kelly has been working in the 3D technology industry since 2014. Kelly is an Assistant Marketing Manager based at Javelin head office in Oakville, Ontario.