Schools collaborate to help students understand brain surgery with 3D printers


Training to become a Neuro-Surgeon takes years of work. MCG and Augusta University are collaborating to help those students feel more comfortable with brain surgery.

“Our goal is to manufacture models, so our students can do procedures before they do it on patients,” said MCG Neuro-Surgeon, Dr. Cargill Allenye.

Dr. Allenye came up with an idea two years ago to switch from textbooks to 3D printed models of the brain for his students.

With the help of the education department, students will be able to perform surgeries as if they were actually in the operating room.

“With these, they have a model that you can manipulate and view it from all angles,” explained manager of education technology, Bill Gray. “Whereas a book you’re going to see a two denominational image or a series of flat images.”

Dr. Alleyne says there is a particular value of having the 3D models because they almost feel like the real thing. 

“We coach them through a gelatin model for a few times,” said Dr. Alleyne. “Then they can go out and do the procedure on a human because they feel comfortable they have done it correctly.”

The gelatin in the models gives the depth and angles for students to know what to do when they have to drill into the skull.

Not only are the students using the 3D models, but they are also using virtual technology. 

“The person doing the surgery is observed by a remote mentor and sees what they are seeing, using the whole lens goggles,” explained Dr. Alleyne.

The manager of education technology is printing out 3D models of other parts of the body, including the shoulder blade. 

“As more people are using the 3D printers and using the technology, it will grow,” said Gray. “They will make it easier for just the average person to use.”

The next step for the Neuro-Surgeons-in-training is to have a 3D printed brain with soft enough material so they can perform more complicated surgeries. 

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