The future of veterinary medicine is changing.
Thanks to the invention of synthetic dog cadavers made by SynDaver Labs, a highly controversial veterinary teaching practice may soon become obsolete. The company hopes to help veterinary medicine phase out the teaching practice of terminal surgery.
Terminal surgery is the practice of taking live animals from animal shelters and using them as practice patients for veterinary students who are learning to perform advanced surgical techniques. The animals are then euthanized post-surgically, regardless of whether or not they'd survive otherwise.
The ethics of terminal surgery have long been the subject of heated debates. Its advocates maintain that overcrowded shelters euthanize their animals anyway, and that live animals provide the best possible education to veterinary students.
However, its critics argue that it is a cruel and dated practice, given the availability of virtual simulators.
While terminal surgeries have fallen out of practice in many veterinary schools, the practice does still exist. This is where SynDaver Labs comes in. The company's aim is to do away with terminal surgery entirely by replacing live animals with its highly realistic synthetic cadavers.
The skinless cadavers are painstakingly designed to simulate real animals. According to SynDaver CTO Dr. Christopher Sakezles;
"They aren't just bodies by appearance, they incorporate all of the organ systems made from materials that mimic the organ systems properly...They're perfused. They breathe. They bleed."
In this way, they're actually an upgrade from traditional cadavers because they behave and move the way a live animal would on the operating table.
In an effort to expedite the launch of the product, SynDaver is using crowdfunding.
"If we launched this product organically, it might take us a decade to put canine cadavers into every veterinary college and many more animals would die needlessly as a result...With the help of the crowdfunding campaing, we can do this practically overnight, and start to put an end to terminal labs for good," Sakezles said in a press release.
SynDaver is hoping to collect some $24 million via its IndieGoGo campaign for the synthetic dogs. If the company is able to reach that number, it'll be able to provide 20 dog cadavers to every accredited veterinary school in the world. Numbers like this have the potential to spare thousands of shelter animals' lives.
Want to learn more about this revolutionary new technology and its implications for veterinary education? You can read more here.
All photos by Justin Mayfield via Tech Insider.