Microsurgical training: vascular control and intraoperative vessel rupture in the human placenta infusion model

Acta Neurochirurgica (2021) 163:2525–2532

Microsurgery is a challenging discipline. Regular lab training under the operating microscope has been the environment where most surgeons have mastered the skills and techniques inherent to most microneurosurgical procedures. However, some critical scenarios remain difficult to master or simulate. We describe a step-by-step method for how to build a low-cost, feasible, and widely available model that allows residents to familiarize themselves with demanding critical situations such as intraoperative rupture of major vessels.

Methods After delivery, nine fresh human placentas were transferred to the lab. The umbilical vein was cannulated for normal saline infusion. Several hands-on procedures were performed under direct microscope vision. Operating microscope setup, allantoic membrane splitting, vascular dissection and vessel injury, and repair exercises were simulated and video recorded. Indocyanine green was administered to simulate intraoperative angiography.

Results The model can be setup in less than 15 min, with minimal cost and infrastructure requirements. All the exercises described above can be conducted with a single placenta. Umbilical vein cannulation adds realism and allows quantification of the volume of saline required to complete the exercise. The final check with indocyanine green simulates intraoperative angiography and allows the assessment of distal vessel patency.

Conclusions Minimal infrastructure requirements, simplicity, and easy setup models provide a suitable environment for regular training. The human placenta is inexpensive and widely available, making it a feasible model for residents training. Neurosurgery residents may benefit from this model to familiarize with microsurgery and critical scenarios in a risk-free environment without time or resource constraints.