Effectiveness of Cadaveric Simulation in Neurosurgical Training: A Review of the Literature

Sujit Gnanakumar, Milosz Kostusiak, Karol P. Budohoski, Damiano Barone, Valentina Pizzuti, Ramez Kirollos, Thomas Santarius, Rikin Trivedi

World Neurosurgery



Increased restrictions on working hours and the resultant decrease in theater time coupled with greater scrutiny to demonstrate proficiency at surgical tasks has resulted in the incorporation of simulators for surgical training. This literature review describes the use of cadaveric simulators in postgraduate neurosurgical training, with the aim to analyze their effectiveness in improving surgical performance.

An electronic literature search of the MEDLINE, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases was conducted to identify studies that look at the efficacy of cadaveric simulation in neurosurgical training. Studies that were eligible were those that assessed either objectively or subjectively the effectiveness of human cadaver models in cranial or spinal neurosurgical training. Studies that did not assess efficacy on training, looked at animal cadavers, or noncadaveric simulators were excluded.

Twelve studies were deemed to meet the eligibility criteria. Only 4 of the studies used objective measures to assess the effectiveness of cadaveric simulators on training. Most studies reported a positive impact of cadaveric simulators on training.

Most studies identified in this review failed to provide strong objective evidence for effectiveness in achieving competency and good outcomes in the theatres. Lack of use of validated skills assessment tools prevented studies from associating cadaveric training with improvement in operating skills. Future studies should aim to address these shortcomings and focus on validating cadaveric simulation, ensuring only those that improve performance of both technical and nontechnical skills are pursued.