Future surgeons at VCU get ‘life-like’ chest cavity model

Future surgeons at VCU get 'life-like' chest cavity model

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The men and women studying to be surgeons at VCU Medical Center now have a new, innovative tool better preparing them to save your life, or someone you care about.

It's a 3-D chest cavity, designed and made right here in Richmond.

The collaborators from VCU's School of Medicine, Arts and College of Engineering hope their Advanced Microsurgery Trainer - or chest cavity model - will change the way future doctors are trained.

Dr. Santosh Kale said he came up with the idea "not only to advance training but advance patient outcomes."

One of several prototypes the team designed, the model is a product of a VCU Presidential Research grant and simulates a breast reconstruction surgery technique for women who've had mastectomies.

The 3-D model simulates blood flow and cardiac distress.

"This is about as close as you can get to human-like tissue," Morgan Yacoe said. Yacoe studies sculpting at VCU and created the mock patient, along with the fleshy substances inside.

The training device even has ribs and an Android app that controls the system.

Dr. Peter Pidcoe and mechanical engineering student Brooke Merritt created the drive inside, making it pump simulated blood.

"We … made it feel life-like," Merritt explained.

The simulation device will better prepare residents like Adam Goudreau.

"Patients are large, the vessels are buried deep within so when you move from a plastic tube model to this sculpture model, it makes it more challenging and more realistic," he said. "It's a better training model."

Dr. Kale's ultimate goal is to stop the "baptism-by-fire training" most residents get in the real world.

The device could be a game-changer, not just for plastic surgery, but for medical training as a whole.

"(The trainer) is similar to what someone would experience in the operating room and the goal of this simulation model is to recreate as many of the elements that an individual would experience when they're inside the operating room," Kale said.

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