Researchers from the Malaya University, the University of Portsmouth and the University of Oxford have created a two–part model of a human skull using the cost–effective method for the practising neurosurgeons. The researchers printed a 3D model of the skull using Objet500 Connex multi–material 3D printer that could replicate the pathological conditions of the brain in patients.
The base of the model (head) consists of a piece with features and natural contours of a human skull. It can be reused effectively to train a novice surgeon on methods of neurosurgery. The second part of the model consists of materials that simulate the skin, bone, dura mater, tumour and brain tissue. However, the multi–textured second piece can only be used once and has to be disposed soon after the training is over.
The model enables the trainees to experience the whole surgical process as they can see, touch and hear different tissues’ response to the use of various surgical instruments. Although the skin is pliable enough to be cut by a scalpel and repaired by sutures, yet it is sturdy to be held by a retractor. On the other hand, the bone is comparatively hard to train a novice in using bone perforators and cutters whereas the dura mater is thin and flexible. The consistency and colour of the tumour differs from those of the brain to simulate the actual tissues. The reusable model costs $2,000 and the disposable inset costs about $600. So far, there are several models to train amateurs, however, all of these are a part of these models and does not provide enough knowledge of the entire surgical process.