Before computer animation took hold of the movie industry, spaceships, exploding cities, dislodged body parts, and other scene-stealing special effects were crafted by highly skilled model makers. But after decades spent in entertainment, Lisa and Eric Chamberlain have taken their skills in the entertainment and special effects businesses and applied them to provide realistic anatomical models of human organs and tissues for the medical market.
In fact, the wife-and-husband team are running a growing western Massachusetts company, The Chamberlain Group, which counts among its customers medical devices powerhouses Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX) and Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) as well as respected teaching hospitals like Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The firm, which serves the medical market exclusively, deftly blends traditional model-making techniques with advances in imaging and computer-graphics technology to make models for surgical training and product demonstrations.
Take the company’s sinus trainer, which consists of a head and neck model with replaceable sinuses. Entellus Medical, a Maple Grove, MN, medical devices firm, began using the models last summer to train surgeons how to use its catheter-based surgical tool for treating chronic sinusitis.
“It’s extremely real in terms of the sinus anatomy,” says Dick Cassidy, vice president of sales at Entellus. Training with the surgical models takes about an hour in the surgeon’s office—much cheaper and more convenient than flying surgeons from around the country to be trained on the device in a central lab with real human cadavers, he notes.
How is it done? The Chamberlain Group, which began making surgical models in the late 1990s, has perfected a technique that … Next Page »