The Many Types of Surgical Simulation


Blog post by SimGHOSTS Secretary Lizzy Wooley

The Many Types of Surgical Simulation

Today I would like to introduce different types of the surgical simulation as it is not well-known compared to the high-fidelity manikins or skills trainers for general hospital cares. There is way more to surgical simulation than just having scenario based training in the OR suite.

1. Basic skills training – Knot-tying and suturing are the most important yet basic skills training to become a proficient surgeon. These were practiced on chicken thigh, pig feet, or cow tongue to feel the realism which is mostly replaced by suture pads there days. This type of surgical simulation has over 100 years of history. Back then, it might have just called as ‘skills practice’ which is certainly a part of surgical simulation training curriculum in all over the institutes and universities.

2. Task trainers – Before high-fidelity surgical simulation was introduced many task trainers were utilized. The skills that you can practice on these trainers were, central line insertion, thoracentesis, paracentesis, perineal repair, PICC line insertion, cricothyroidotomy, chest tube insertion and more. They are still very popular to teach skills and steps to surgery clerkship on undergraduate program, surgery residents, and even to the advanced practice providers.

3. Virtual Reality simulators – As surgical training involves quite amount of good quality disposables such as simulated tissue, blood, vessels, fat layers, etc, the development of surgical virtual reality simulator became popular to be more cost effective. The ones that are actively used in many institutes are laparoscopic simulator, da Vinci robot simulator, bronchoscopy, colonoscopy, ultrasound training, and as well as the cath lab procedures.

4. Cadaveric training – This is one thing that we often forget to include within the simulation program. The cadaveric training has longer history than any other simulation programs in the world as early as the part of the third century BC by Greek physicians. Any institute where has a robust surgical education program has the cadaveric training in the curriculum and it’s the place to practice surgical procedure with the most realistic anatomy structures and set up.

5. 3D printing – As 3D printing cost became more affordable with advanced technology, it is a new way to simulate the surgical procedure embedded with the high fidelity manikin setting. The utilization of 3D printing is expanding and still there are a lot of opportunities to improve the training. It has started with printing organs to perform the surgery on, however, maybe in the near future, we could be able to print the entire human anatomy with a realistic materials.