A journey into the body at the Deutsches Museum

Robotic systems are so precise today that they can position the smallest objects in exactly the right place. What opportunities does that offer in medicine? A new exhibition at the Deutsches Museum illustrates that for interested visitors.

Andrea Lutz
Published on 7. Juli 2022

Everything is new at the Deutsches Museum! This was the claim with which exhibitions ranging from atomic physics to robotics opened for all museumgoers in summer 2022 in the completely renovated part of the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany. The "health" exhibition is one of 19 new areas designed from scratch, with a catheterization laboratory as its central exhibit.

Straightaway you can see that this exhibit is up close and personal: A gigantic model of a body fills the room – you can wander into the head space, marvel at the stylized rib cage framework suspended from the ceiling, and finish up at the five-meter-high foot at the end of the hall. The tour takes visitors from the teeth, eyes, and ears through the cardiovascular system to the joints. The younger explorers follow Milla the Owl on the children's trail.

The great experts of medical history are nowhere to be seen. Instead, we hear interviews with real patients recounting what life is like with a cochlea implant or with a prosthetic leg. The topics cover everything that might affect the visitors personally: You can learn about eye diseases such as cataracts, find out how arteriosclerosis develops, or how vector vaccines work. Interactive stations test your skill at sewing a surgical seam.

A cochlea implant is an auditory prosthesis for overcoming deafness or loss of hearing. It is surgically implanted and stimulates the auditory nerve electrically in accordance with the pitch and volume of sound so that the brain has the impression of hearing.

If you take a little time, you will discover your "blind spot" or even find out how your own life can be prolonged or shortened by different behaviors.
Exhibition Deutsches Museum
The Deutsches Museum was always an institution in which you can literally hold science and technology in your hands. Florian Breitsameter, curatorial director of the health exhibition and curator for pharmacy and medical engineering proudly presents what started out as an idea sketched on a white board in his office.

Florian Breitsameter, curatorial director of the health exhibition and curator for pharmacy and medical engineering

The exhibits contributed by Siemens Healthineers represent significant highlights on the tour: There is an OR table equipped with an ARTIS pheno angiography system, which was developed for use in minimally invasive surgery and interventional cardiology. Visitors experience a modern catheterization laboratory through simulation and can experience how stent placement is controlled on a patient model.

This minimally invasive intervention is undertaken in a catherization laboratory on patients with narrowing of the arteries. Using a catheter, a balloon is guided to the stenosis in the vessel. There, a wire mesh tube, the stent, is placed to support the stenosis.

In the central part of the exhibition, visitors can experience cases particularly close up: Here, we see real stories of patients with serious diseases shown on a digital examination table.

 "Ms Eicke" is one such patient. Her name is fictitious, but her story all the more real: An anomaly was discovered in her lung during screening. As a smoker, she belongs to a risk group for malignant changes in the lung. And, in fact, a more thorough examination at the Thorax Clinic at Heidelberg University Hospital showed an adenocarcinoma at an early stage.

An adenocarcinoma is a malignant tumor that grows out of glandular tissue. Adenocarcinomas are the most common subtype of non-small-cell carcinomas of the lung, but they also occur as cancer of the stomach or intestine.

On an interactive table, the visitors can hear the story of Ms Eicke, view the clinical images, and check their assessment of the required therapy against reality. In real life, the story of Ms Eicke had a happy ending. The patient already quit smoking during follow-up monitoring of the pulmonary nodule and no residue or relapse was found in the CT aftercare. Ms Eicke was lucky that her lung cancer was picked up so early and could be completely surgically removed. She is not restricted in her normal life after one of five pulmonary lobes had been removed. In reality, only 21 percent of women and 15 percent of men have a successful outcome after this diagnosis1.

A relapse is recurrence of a disease after temporary therapy,

The general director of the Deutsches Museum, Wolfgang M. Heckl, is grateful that contact with top physicians and manufacturers was possible: "Siemens Healthineers enables visitors to the Deutsches Museum to experience the latest medical technology firsthand."

Anka Müller, PhD, scientific assistant

For those who understand what pharmacy and medical engineering do to help patients and how various disciplines contribute to restoring and retaining health, this new exhibition may ease their fears about the examinations and treatments needed in the event of a serious illness.

By Andrea Lutz
Andrea Lutz is a journalist and business trainer specialized on medical topics, technology, and healthcare IT. She lives in Nuremberg, Germany.