Synthetic Dog Cadavers at UF
Veterinary students at UF are practicing surgery, but not using typical dog cadavers. They're using the most advanced synthetic, or fake, dog cadavers on the market. Dr. Stanley Kim, a small animal surgery professor at UF, hand a hand in creating the product. He says, "It's entirely synthetic, it's made from water, fiber, salts. But there's no live tissue in here whatsoever."
The company creating these synthetic cadavers, Syndaver, worked with Dr. Kim and UF small animal surgery professor Dr. Brad Case, to make them as real as possible. It took two years and multiple prototypes to get these lifelike Syndavers ready for the lab. Dr. Case says, "The benefits of the Syndaver vs. a cadaver is tissue quality. The tissue in a cadaver begins to degrade, and that happens immediately when an animal is euthanized."
Modern technology has been changing, as have teaching methods. Dr. Kim says, "A few years ago, we even used to do this in live animals. But obviously, a lot of ethical issues with that. A lot of issues with using cadavers."
The Syndavers are as real as they could be, complete with fake blood and a heartbeat. Vet student Elizabeth Fitzpatrick says it feels just like a real surgery. "The tissue itself feels like a real spleen, and feels like a real liver. Which is really interesting to be able to do that."
Dr. Case says this is the safest environment for them to make mistakes, and learn, before they perform surgeries on real animals. "So I kind of want them to make a mistake, and in some cases we'll go in an make a mistake for them, to get a big bleeder. So that they have to see that. hear the heart rate go up, and then be able to adapt with that."
Fitzpatrick says this practice makes her feel more confident about graduation. "It's definitely a lot more comfortable for me now having performed these surgeries."
Syndaver says they are also working on synthetic cadaver technology for cats and horses as well.