Veterinarians at Colorado State University have invented artificial animal body parts that look, feel, and even bleed like real skin so that veterinary students can hone their surgical skills before operating on live patients.
According to the university, the artificial replicas of sections of animal bodies, such as an abdominal wall, give students at the school's teaching hospital a realistic, hands-on learning environment that bridges the gap between classroom lectures and procedures.
In order to give students the most life-like experience possible, the artificial tissues are made of layers of silicone that closely simulate skin, connective tissue, and muscle. Some models are even colored realistically; for instance, the brown-skinned abdominal wall of a horse with white layers and red layers representing muscles and tissues.
“Blood vessels” are built into the silicone and realistically placed, sized, and connected to an artificial blood source that supplies the tissue with realistic bleeding. Students practicing sutures, for example, will experience blood coming into a wound or incision from both sides of the tissue at realistic locations and flow rates.