Systematic review of surgical training on reperfused human cadavers

Background: The role of reperfused human cadavers in surgical training has not been established.

Methods: Reports describing reperfused human cadaver models in terms of simulated surgeries, the use of tools to assess technical competency and skills transfer to patients, cadaver status and reperfusion techniques were included.

Results: Thirty-five reports were included. Most participants practised vascular (n = 27), flap (n = 6) and trauma (n = 4) procedures. Training progression was evaluated objectively in only two studies. In two publications, flap techniques were practised on cadavers and repeated successfully in patients. Eighteen studies employed whole bodies. Fresh and embalmed cadavers were both used in 17 publications. Most embalmed cadavers were formalin-fixed (n = 10), resulting in stiffness. Few trainings were offered on soft Thiel-embalmed cadavers (n = 5). Only arteries were reperfused in 20 studies, while in 13 publications, the arteries and veins were filled. Arteries and/or veins were mostly pressurized (n = 21) and arterial flow was generated in 14 studies.

Conclusions: Various reperfused human cadaver models exist, enabling practise of mainly vascular procedures. Preservation method determines the level of simulation fidelity. Thorough evaluation of these models as surgical training tools and transfer effectiveness is still lacking.