In-vivo and ex-vivo tissue experiments form an inevitable part of all pre-clinical validation of medical imaging and interventional research. The proposed project aims to reduce, refine and replace live animal experiments according to the 3R principle (Replacement-Reduction-Refinement). Replacing animal and to a lesser extent, cadaver experiments entirely are not currently appropriate. Firstly because no complete alternative solution to replace these models is currently available and secondly because they both constitute vitally important pre-clinical evidence with published acceptance in the field as pre-clinical validation models. Minimising use (by reduce and replace practices) however is an ethical imperative. To date, adequately complex anatomically accurate synthetic human-like phantom models for testing do not exist.The proposed project work will be for creating a physical model that will represent anatomically correct abdominal and pelvic features, complex physical tissue properties, an air pathway for respiratory motion and complex vessels for pulsatile blood flow and bleeding simulation. For this, the complexity of surrounding tissues and vascular structures, along with effects of respiratory associated organ motion and tissue deformation, found in the clinical scenario, is required to be physically simulated. At University of Dundee, multiple medical imaging modalities are available as a resource, allowing for acquisition of clinical imaging data from (non-ionising) MRI and ultrasound volunteer scan studies. These images can be used to create 3D virtual reconstruction models of patient anatomy in terms of minute details of complex geometries occurring during respiration. These virtual reconstruction models can be explored and interrogated (filtered, thresholded, segmented, meshed) and exported for further refinement by computer-aided design software (CAD). In CAD software, virtual parts for each significant complex anatomical structure (e.g. tissue, vascular, skeletal and organ) can be created in turn and virtually assembled together. From these virtual CAD parts and assemblies, casting molds or direct tissue mimicking material(TMM) phantom constructs can be 3D printed to create physical anatomically accurate parts. Rapid manufacturing techniques can be used for converting a computer reconstructed 3D model into a physical prototype. These models can then be assembled to create more complex physical phantoms of the human abdomen containing soft tissues, hard tissues, organs and the rib cage. Hard and soft polymers with properties comparable to real tissue will be used.
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