As the world continues to face the COVID-19 pandemic, testing is still one of the most important ways that the virus will be understood and contained until a vaccine is developed. As we’ve seen, 3D printing has been used to help meet the demand for nasopharyngeal swabs to ramp up testing. However, there is another lack that we had not accounted for: swabbers.
Singapore-based 3D printing company Creatz3D is helping to facilitate the training of COVID-19 swabbers so that testing rates can be maintained and even scaled up to help fight the virus. Its solution? Anatomically realistic 3D printed medical manikins that can help medical professionals to train swabbers. As the company said: “As we adjust to the new normal in the fight against COVID-19 in Singapore, there is a growing and urgent need to train more swabbers to support and ramp up wider swab testing efforts.”
In Singapore today, medical professionals are volunteering their time to train selected civilians to conduct COVID-19 swabbing. However, the training has been challenging because of a lack of medical manikins with features suitable for nasal mid-turbinate swab testing, nasopharyngeal swab testing and oropharyngeal swab testing.
To address this issue, a front-line training organization got in touch with Creatz3D to develop a life-sized manikin designed for simulating the various types of swab collections. Creatz3D worked in collaboration with AuMed, a company specializing in bespoke medical simulator products, and utilized data from its CT and MRI library to design several anatomical 3D models. Ultimately, these models were combined into a single structure using Materialise’s Mimics Innovation Suite (MIS) Medical.
Vital input from ENT doctors and clinicians was also integrated into the model to help address the shortcomings of existing manikins, as well as the specific needs for COVID-19 testing. Notably, the 3D printed manikin was designed to be more accessible than existing medical manikins in terms of cost and availability.
One of the key benefits of the 3D printed manikins is that they are partially transparent, which means that trainees can see the swab and its movements. This also allows trainers to more clearly demonstrate how swabs should be inserted, rotated and removed. The manikin also integrates a moveable tongue, so trainees can practice using a tongue depressor, as well as the turbinates, pharynx and uvula.
The 3D printed medical training manikin can reportedly be delivered within a turnaround time of five to seven days, and is more cost effective than traditional models, which can cost upwards of $3,000.