Cheap, easily accessible and realistic methods of reproducing surgery through simulation are the ideal. Here a group from Tokyo, Japan report on a method of producing 3D printed skulls and mandibles to use for simulated surgery. A high resolution CT scan forms the basis for the model. They then use a 3D inkjet printer to print using salt to produce bone and tissue and can highlight structures such as nerves, vessels and teeth by colouring the salt. They are able to control the hardness and viscosity of the model to bring it close to that of human bone. Studying the characteristics of pig rib, their salt model and a resin model, they found similar load-deflection characteristics between the pig rib and salt model compared to the resin model. They report a cost of about one fifteenth that of current modelling techniques and this could provide an economically efficient model for simulated surgery and training. In the current context of the drive to find simulated training methods this would appear to be an advance in enabling training and possibly practising a procedure prior to surgery.

Salt as a new colored solid model for simulation surgery.
Okumoto T, Sakamoto Y, Kondo S, Ogata H, Kishi K, Yoshimura Y.
2015;26: 680–1.
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Stuart Burrows

FRCS (ORL-HNS), Wellington Regional Hospital, Newtown, Wellington, New Zealand.

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