Northwestern University researchers have collaborated on a new three-dimensional modeling approach to training pediatric surgeons that makes practice surgeries far more realistic and safer.

Katherine Barsness, M.D., an associate professor of surgery and medical education at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine, teamed up with colleagues at Feinberg's Innovations Lab and the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to create life-sized, reusable models of a newborn’s ribcage. McCormick’s Segal Design Institute produces the models with 3-D printers, which turn digital files into three-dimensional solid objects one very thin layer of a material at a time. The resulting plastic ribcages become anatomically correct replicas of an infant’s chest cavity when covered with a synthetic silicone skin and filled with tissue.

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