The UVA Health System’s Department of Otolaryngology is using 3-D printed skulls to train interns on medical procedures – a practice that is not only benefitting medical students and residents, but also patients.

Dr. Jose Gurrola, a nose specialist, along with Dr. Robert Reed, an otolaryngology resident, and Dwight Dart, a design lab engineer at the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Rapid Prototyping 3-D Printing Lab, have created 3-D-printed skulls to use as models for rhinological surgical simulation using a combination of software and hardware.

To create the models, a patient’s CT or MRI scans are converted to 3-D printable files, which are then printed on a 3-D printer.

“The models allow students, residents and doctors to see, feel and understand dimensions of real human geometry,” Dart said.

According to Gurrola, the benefits of the 3-D models are plentiful; they are relatively cheap to produce, reusable and readily accessible to trainees.

The 3-D printed skulls are just one of several medical projects to come out of the Rapid Prototyping Lab since its opening five years ago. “3-D printing is going to revolutionize medicine,” Dart said.

Read the UVA Today article written by Kaylyn Christopher, UVA Today Media Associate.