Not Just Playthings: Plastic Bones May Teach Anatomy To Future Veterinarians

Veterinarians in training may have a new way to learn equine anatomy: plastic bones. Using equine cadavers to teach students is cost-prohibitive: Preserving the bodies is expensive and the equipment to do so is also costly. Many schools now utilize only photos and text, as well as lectures, to disseminate information and keep costs down. While this is effective to an extent, nothing can replace the hands-on learning of equine anatomy.

To test if a 3D printer could recreate a horse’s leg, Drs. Daniela de Alcântara Leite dos Reis, Beatriz Laura Rojas Gouveia, José Carlos Rosa Júnior and Antônio Chaves de Assis Neto scanned the scapula, humerus, radius, ulna, carpus and phalanges of a real horse. They then printed the leg in plastic. The humerus took 14 hours to print and the scapula used the most materials to print.

The scientists then compared the anatomical characteristics and measurements of the plastic reproductions to the real bones, and found no statistical differences between them. The actual bones did, however, weight much more than the plastic bones.

The team concluded that plastic, printed models of horse bones could be used to accurately teach veterinary students in a hands-on capacity. They also noted that the printing was relatively cheap; the most expensive bone printed was around $70.

An additional study will be done that assesses the performance of students using printed models and real bones to determine if printed bones are effective teaching tools.

Read the full study here.

Read more at HorseTalk.

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