Dogs and cats living in animal shelters were the usual "practice subjects" for would-be veterinarians not so long ago—something called "terminal surgery" by veterinarians. After the surgical procedure, students would euthanize the animal when they were done.
Thankfully, the academic community phased-out this teaching method; however, veterinarians are still looking for exacting alternatives that will be able to give students a realistic veterinary experience.
David Danielson may just have the solution. In addition to being a veterinarian, he is also the vice president of SynDaver Lab, a company that makes synthetic human tissue and body parts for medical simulations.
He and his team are currently working on a synthetic dog prototype that breathes and bleeds just as a living dog would. Veterinary students can now perform multiple surgeries on the dog and expect it to react accordingly—perhaps even more so when they make mistakes.
The prototype even has its own heartbeat and circulatory system made out of SynDaver Lab's in-house synthetic tissue.
"The canine utilises SynDaver’s patented SynTissue, which mimics living tissue, includes a full list of functioning bodily systems, and has the capability to simulate customised diseases, illnesses and medical complications," says Danielson.
Granted it's one of the creepiest-looking things you'll ever see—but it may just change veterinary medicine for the better.
Let's just hope the students can keep their lunches down while working on the uncanny thing.