Asko Ristolainen, Gianluca Colucci and Maarja Kruusmaa
The use of animals for testing and validating new medical devices and surgical techniques has raised ethical issues for a long time. Following the introduction of the Three Rs principle, significant efforts have been made to achieve a reduction in the numbers of animals used in testing. Nevertheless, the number of large animals used for testing purposes is still too high. This article describes a potential alternative to the use of large animals in the early phase of the development of surgical equipment — a high-definition phantom pig abdomen. The phantom pig abdomen was developed from computed tomography scans by using affordable materials, and it was used with two different robotic platforms. It permitted the testing of minimally-invasive robotic pancreatic enucleation, with or without intraoperative ultrasound guidance. The phantom pig abdomen has proven to be a realistic tool, with the potential to reduce the cost and time-frame of the experiments.