Background The use of animal tissue in simulation based medical education (SBME) is an important part of teaching surgical/technical skills. Unfortunately this has logistic, cost and health and safety implications which restrict its use. We set out to organise a Regional Anaesthesia and Surgical Skills workshop that would maximise the use of our animal tissue specimens.
Method We sourced a lamb thorax (simulating elderly patient) and a pig thorax with skin attached (simulating young well-padded patient) from a butcher. These had already passed abattoir health checks. Eight attendees were sequentially taught techniques of Seldinger chest drain insertion, intercostal blocks, interpleural catheter insertion, and paravertebral blocks. Everybody successfully carried out these procedures on both specimens with and without ultrasound. Then surgical chest drains was done, with its conversion to interpleural catheters. This was repeated by another eight on the same day by flipping the specimens. The lamb thorax was then used for a clamshell thoracotomy workshop.
Result Feedback from getting hands-on practice in these rarely needed skills were universally positive. Following a logical sequence it was possible perform multiple procedures. Using two types of meat to represent our patient spectrum meant both increased opportunity and variation in technique, as well as providing for cultural sensitivities. A combination of low cost (<£80 for meat) and hands-on training of multiple procedures to multiple clinicians meant that it was easy to obtain funding. Presentations emanating from these workshops have won several prizes at international flagship congresses and been published in peer reviewed high impact journals.1,2,3 Using food dyes to confirm successful procedure ensured that specimens could be disposed of in an ecofriendly manner by grateful canines.
Conclusions Employing sequential use of animal specimens as a force multiplier gets more bang-for-buck. This can be useful in SMBE during these days of budgetary and regulatory restraints.
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Dawes T, Nicholas C, Willers J, Samuels T, Uncles D. Comparing the pressures required for pleural puncture between different types of needle and different angles of approach in a porcine model. Brit J Anaesth 2012;109(3):473P–484P
Goosen L, Parker S, Willers J, Hariharan S, Bukunola B, Crossland C, Shaw C. The occasional thoracotomist – which tool is top? Anaesthesia 2012;67:78
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