Winnipeg, Manitoba – A 3D printed hand model has been developed by plastic surgeons in Canada to teach hand pinning. The realistic model allows young surgeons to practise before they operate on patients.
It is often possible to treat hand fractures without large incisions by placing metal pins through the skin. It has to be done by feel, as the pin cannot be seen once it enters the skin.
‘To help teach young surgeons these skills, we created a realistic three-dimensional model with bones which can be drilled into,’ said Christian Petropolis, a plastic surgeon and pioneer of the technology. ‘We made the joints all mobile as they would be in a real hand, but the skin is translucent so that young surgeons can better gain an appreciation for the wires once they enter the skin.’
The 3D-printed silicone hand includes several common hand fractures. The bones are made from polyurethane, sourced from Pennsylvania-based Smooth-On, and incorporate 10% iron powder by weight. This renders them radio-opaque so they show up on X-rays.
The hands cost about $50 each to make. Initial feedback from both surgeons and trainees has been very favourable.