3D models to revolutionise surgery

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The future of surgical training will be in 3D, thanks to a new research project starting in South Australia.

DePuy Synthes Australia, the orthopaedics company of Johnson & Johnson, is partnering with Flinders University and South Australian company Fusetec to revolutionise knee, hip and spinal surgery.

Andrew Giles, chief operating officer of DePuy Synthes Australia, said the $2.4 million project aimed to develop 3D surgical models for those surgeries.

“This collaboration between industry and academia is an excellent opportunity to bring Australian medical innovation to the world stage,” he said.

“We’re proud to trial the innovative surgical models and play our part in refining the training approach for a range of orthopaedic procedures in a safe and controlled environment.”

Fusetec CEO Mark Roe said the world-leading 3D technology under development could simulate a variety of medical training devices, reproducing exacting density of all anatomical tissues and bone densities, and reproducing organs or joints to an accuracy of 20 microns.

“Our collaborative outcomes in this project will have a wide range of benefits to the healthcare sector, including the ability to upskill residents and surgeons in a risk-free environment from potentially harmful bacteria,” Mr Roe said.

“The project will also provide pathology on demand, meaning complex surgical training can now be rehearsed prior to undertaking potentially life-threatening operations.”

Strategic Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Mark Taylor, said Flinders University was internationally recognised for its work on better orthopaedic devices and orthopaedic biomechanics.

“In particular, Flinders researchers have used technology to characterise tissues and modelling of joints, which will support Fusetec to develop the next generation of anatomical models,” Professor Taylor said.

Professor Karen Reynolds, director of the Medical Device Research Institute at Flinders, and Associate Professor John Costi from the College of Science and Engineering, are also on the university's research team.

Development of the new technology will be supported by advanced bio-model workshops led by DePuy Synthes, which will trial the Fusetec anatomical models as part of Johnson & Johnson’s surgeon training for use of their digital technologies.

Professor Taylor is also Flinders University's lead in the Australian Research Council Training Centre for Medical Implant Technologies (ARC CMIT) which provides training for PhD students and early career researchers to engage with industry and clinical partners.

The centre specialises in personalised 3D-printed orthopaedic and maxillofacial implants.

J&J is a Major Sponsor of the Australian Private Hospitals Association.

Read more: Latest orthopaedic technology lands in Australia

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