Cadavers in Medical Training

Why We Do What We Do

The medical community has been well served by the study of human cadaver tissues for many years. As new technologies have emerged, however, so have ideas that “newer is better.” In some instances this may be true. When it comes to fully understanding the human body and the various ways in which human tissue may respond to treatments, we respectfully disagree. Med Ed Labs was established with the intent of bringing physicians, first responders, medical device developers, and other relevant personnel face to face with their target, the human body. 

They say that knowledge is power. For the appropriate professional, human cadaver training offers enlightenment in a multitude of areas. Our varied trainings and cadaver lab set-ups can achieve several objectives, such as:

Optimal placement of injectables or other techniques in actual human anatomy, not virtual simulation. 
Dimensional compatibility between human anatomy and new technologies. 
Accurate spatial relationships between a device and its accessories and anatomical structures

Cadaver Labs are High-Tech and High-Touch
Historically, cadaver labs were associated with medical training in the college environment. A stint in the cadaver lab was something medical students either really looked forward to or really did not. We see the value of cadaver training far beyond general anatomy and physiology teaching. Our learning environments are hands-on and focused on both general and specialized techniques and may include interventional supplies, surgical supplies, imaging equipment, and more. In this way, we can help improve development by removing the guesswork that has been typical to some medical training. For example, using a cadaver lab, a professional does not face:

Postural and anatomical differences between animal models and the human body. 
Inaccurate representations of physiological disease states as they occur in the human body […]

November 15th, 2021|Cadavers in Medical Training|Comments Off on Why We Do What We Do|
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    Medical Schools are Shifting to Post-Pandemic Visions: Is There a Place for Cadaver Training?

Medical Schools are Shifting to Post-Pandemic Visions: Is There a Place for Cadaver Training?

The novel coronavirus has placed strain on our medical system in ways we’ve never seen. But it hasn’t only been hospitals, urgent care clinics, and even how first-responders operate in the field that have experienced dramatic changes, our medical schools have also been affected. In some ways, due to the pause on in-person clinical training some med students faced, we could say these changes were unfortunate. Looking forward, however, medicine is now creating post-pandemic visions of health care that may have positive and lasting effects around the world. 

The adjustments that medical schools had to make beginning in early 2020 touched both ideology and clinical practice. Nearly every aspect of how medical students would learn was touched. Administrations, professors, and students themselves had to adjust on the fly. There was no warning, no instruction manual to follow, and a whole generation of doctors to train. What is interesting about this scenario is that it may offer some of the best opportunities to transform the system from the ground up. 

One of the most significant changes to occur during this time was the switch to online learning. The technical aspects of this transition were relatively easy. It’s the clinical aspect that can prove challenging. Regardless of the advances we’ve made in technology and simulation, a switch to online learning could diminish the hands-on portion of clinical medicine that is so necessary and integral to success for new doctors. Being an advancing field, medicine demands that doctors continue to progress in their awareness of human anatomy, which we still believe comes best through cadaver training. 

While some institutions have moved solely to virtual reality simulators and video libraries of old patient interviews and exams, these are poor substitutes for […]

September 15th, 2021|Cadavers in Medical Training|Comments Off on Medical Schools are Shifting to Post-Pandemic Visions: Is There a Place for Cadaver Training?|
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    The Essential ways that Cadaver Training Helps First Responders

The Essential ways that Cadaver Training Helps First Responders

The value of anatomy as an integral aspect of medical science and education has been understood for aeons. The anatomical structure of the human body, in particular, is foundational to the retention of clinical knowledge. This is as true for nurses and first responders as it is for medical doctors and surgeons. It is also true for those who develop medical devices and instrumentation. For many years, medical institutions have supported academic development by teaching anatomy and physiology. Many medical students can remember the first time they set foot in the cadaver lab. However, as times and technologies have changed, education as it pertains to anatomy has shifted into the virtual realm. 

The argument regarding the continued validity of real-life, hands-on cadaver training has gone on for years now. Respectfully, we maintain our stance that anything less than cadaver training is lacking in giving a medical professional or first responder the skills to face what they will be exposed to on the job. Cadaver training isn’t just about anatomy and physiology. It is about gaining the visual and tactile experience of various anatomical structures. It is about exposure to the natural variables that exist in the human body. Ultimately, cadaver training is more than a conceptual experience, it is one that involves mind, body, and emotion. 
Additional Aspects of Clinical Work
While anatomy is an important aspect of clinical practice, the involvement of emotional and psychological responses on the job cannot be overlooked. These responses exist even in the educational sector in which students enter the cadaver lab. Numerous students have written of the emotional response they have had in the lab. Between 5 and 7 percent of cadaver lab participants have reported experiencing recurrent images of […]

August 15th, 2021|Cadavers in Medical Training|Comments Off on The Essential ways that Cadaver Training Helps First Responders|

How Cadaver Training can Influence Rhinoplasty Outcomes

Plastic and reconstructive surgeons are under tremendous pressure to achieve optimal aesthetic outcomes for their patients. In the cosmetic realm, there may be no procedure that is more “high-stakes” than rhinoplasty. Tissues must be handled delicately to avoid damage or suboptimal results. Judging by the number of rhinoplasty revisions that take place each year, this is a procedure that requires a high degree of specific skill. Here, we discuss how one study points to the value of cadaver training for plastic surgeons who want to up their rhinoplasty game. According to one poll, it is estimated that over 90% of American plastic surgeons perform at least one revision rhinoplasty each year. Additional training may reduce this number. 

Rhinoplasty-specific skills can be obtained in a few ways. The most common model of education is for a plastic surgeon to complete academic training and residency. An additional layer of education is for the surgeon to participate in a cadaver-based program. In one study, researchers at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina compared these two models to assess how each may relate to rhinoplasty outcomes. 

A total of 50 plastic surgery residents participated in the study. Twenty five of the residents had no experience performing rhinoplasty. These participants entered a 40-hour cadaver-based program that took place over two weeks. In the control group were the other 25 residents. These participants did not participate in the cadaver-based training, but instead learned rhinoplasty techniques through an academic program. After the two week cadaver-based training, all study participants performed rhinoplasty on live patients. The surgical procedures were videotaped and assessed by evaluators who did not know the identity of study participants by watching these screenings. Participants were graded as:

Very good […]

June 15th, 2021|Cadavers in Medical Training, Surgical Procedure Trainings|Comments Off on How Cadaver Training can Influence Rhinoplasty Outcomes|
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    Military Medics and First Responders Benefit from hands-on Cadaver Use

Military Medics and First Responders Benefit from hands-on Cadaver Use

As clinical medicine, including field medicine, has advanced and become more technological, students and instructors have faced nuanced challenges. Namely, does technology such as virtual simulation offer more benefit to those learning human anatomy than cadaver training? The argument for VR instruction has been strong. However, when we listen to students themselves, we gain clarity regarding the unparalleled value of donated human cadavers in all areas of medicine. Here, we’ll briefly discuss how an experiment performed at the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas (AFNS) supports this training modality.

The cadaver lab experiment took place in 2016 in the Sustainment for Trauma and Resuscitation Skills Program, overseen at that time by Staff Sgt. Reginald Gilchrist. When conducting the program, Gilchrist explained the reasoning for cadaver-use in this way. He stated, “The high fidelity medical simulators we utilize during the course are some of the most advanced on the market, but still do not compare to working on cadavers.” 

Multiple bodies of research have confirmed the benefits of cadaver labs for medical students, first-responders, and even medical device developers. Data from numerous studies and personal student accounts reflect the value of a controlled training environment. Students learning how to address human conditions, including traumatic injury, experience a gamut of emotions. Is it not better for them to do so in a safe place using a cadaver than in a critical situation? 

In this way, virtual simulations simply cannot compare to the real-life scenarios faced by those on battle-fields and the streets, in which appropriate care is a life-or-death reaction.

When interviewed about the military cadaver lab in San Antonio, Gilchrist summed it up poignantly and directly, stating that, outside of working in a trauma unit, “most medics don’t get […]

May 15th, 2021|Cadavers in Medical Training|Comments Off on Military Medics and First Responders Benefit from hands-on Cadaver Use|
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    Study Confirms the Validity of Cadaver Training for Emergency Medicine

Study Confirms the Validity of Cadaver Training for Emergency Medicine

In recent years as educational curricula have become more sophisticated, an increasing number of residents are expected to perform competently based on skills learned through simulation. Various simulation methods look good on paper. They are lower cost and more readily available than cadaver-based educational training. While this may be true, there are benefits to cadaver use that cannot be overstated. Here, we discuss the findings of a recent study that measured variables among a small group of emergency medicine residents after exposure to cadaver training versus simulation.

The pilot study that sought to discern the outcomes of cadaver training in comparison to simulation involved twenty-two senior emergency medicine residents. Participants had already completed their standard simulation training in tube thoracostomy and cricothyrotomy. After then performing these low-frequency procedures on cadavers, participants were surveyed regarding the accuracy of training. A 100-point visual analog scale provided necessary data to compare equality between the two scenarios, with 100 being equal. Additionally, participants estimated if comfort level with the performance of each of the procedures improved and, if so, how much. This was reported on a scale of 0% to 100%.

One-hundred percent of participants responded via survey. For the cricothyrotomy procedure, respondents measured the constancy of simulation training at 34.7 ± 13.4. The rating for cadaver training in cricothyrotomy was 79.9 ± 7.0. The simulation rating for tube thoracostomy was 38.4 ± 19.3 vs. 86 ± 8.6 for cadaver training. Comfort levels for both procedures improved an average of 78.5% among all participants, who cited superior tissue integrity as a critical aspect of care.

Med Ed Labs was established to advance knowledge and clinical skills across several fields of medicine. We believe that the more accurate the training model, the […]

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    Cadavers Play an Integral Role in the Future of Plastic Surgery

Cadavers Play an Integral Role in the Future of Plastic Surgery

The importance of clinical training is relevant to every area of medicine. While plastic surgery is largely perceived as “cosmetic” by the average consumer, it is much more. The plastic surgeon must have familiarity with deep planes of tissue, bone, fascia, nerves, and other structures of the face and body. While we have witnessed dramatic shifts in the education of new surgeons, we have yet to see an alternative to cadaver training. The reason is simple, the objectives of surgical training are better met when the anatomical specimen closely resembles an operative specimen.
The Value of Cadavers in Plastic Surgery Training
Plastic surgery is the repair or reconstruction of one or more parts of the face or body. Plastic surgeons may perform many rejuvenating procedures, such as facelift surgery. However, they also treat women who have undergone mastectomy surgery. They repair tissue that has been badly damaged in a traumatic event, such as a fire or dog attack. Some plastic surgeons are extending their technical skills into the area of transplant surgeries. The work performed by a plastic surgeon, then, dramatically affects their patients’ quality of life.

The success that plastic surgeons have achieved to date has been largely attributed to working with cadavers. This is a logical perspective, seeing that the basis of most plastic surgery procedures is to reposition tissue from one area to another. To fully understand the three-dimensional relationship of anatomical structures, a surgeon needs a lifelike model, and there is no model like the human body. In this way, cadavers play an integral role in the success of plastic surgery procedures. They are also a partner in building surgical confidence in a safe, controlled environment.

We’ve all heard unfortunate stories of botched plastic […]

Why Cadavers are Integral to Quality Medical Training

Human cadaver training has provided meaningful service to medical students for many years. The approach to educating new physicians, as well as those with many years under their belts, may have changed over time thanks to new technologies, but this does not diminish the value of the occasional cadaver lab. Here, we discuss the reasons that cadaver training continues to be the gold standard and why this may never change.

Hands-on experience is vital to good medicine. Yes, discussion and nomenclature are necessary. However, practicing medicine requires touch. It requires knowledge of the variations in human anatomy from one person to another. This is especially vital for surgeons and is also necessary for those developing or using medical devices. Cadaver labs coupled with lecture brings learning full-circle.
No two bodies are the same. Of course, every medical student and physician knows this. But sometimes it is forgotten in the day to day realities of medical practice. Cadaver labs remind medical professionals that every body looks different and responds differently to medical therapies and that these nuances must be considered to accomplish the best patient outcomes.
Cadavers put clinicians face-to-face with a wide variety of pathologies in an educational setting. It isn’t enough to know the natural, normal anatomy of the body, medical providers must also know pathology and how it can look different in each patient.
Appreciation for the human body. Interestingly, cadaver training has been said to increase medical students’ appreciation for donations made to science. Moreover, clinical practice utilizing cadavers reminds practitioners that the human body deserves respect and gentleness at all times, perhaps especially when dealing with disease. In this sense, cadavers can enhance compassionate care.

Where Cadavers Come From
Students understand that […]

There is More to Cadaver Training than You May Realize

For hundreds of years, the medical community has recognized the value of anatomy as an integral component of education. Without the study of anatomy, a healthcare professional, including a paramedic or other first responder, may have a more difficult time retaining clinical knowledge and skills. To support academic development, medical institutions have implemented various techniques revolving around anatomy and physiology. In our tech-savvy society, virtual reality techniques have become commonplace. For a more realistic application, some institutions have implemented the use of plastic models. Respectfully, we argue that neither can adequately prepare a medical professional for what they may face on the job; that anything less than cadaver training is lacking.

The cadaveric component of institutional learning provides students with the tactile and visual experience of human anatomical structures. It also exposes students to the innate variability that exists in human morphology. No less important, exposure to human cadavers takes students beyond the conceptual experience of dissection before beginning surgical rotations.
Anatomy is Only One Aspect of Dissection Skills
Any healthcare professional who has been on the job for a length of time can attest to the psychological and emotional response that may occur when exposed to human cadavers. Numerous med students have documented their reaction to working with human cadavers, specifically noting their emotional – and sometimes physical – experience. Some of these experiences are positive and some are negative. Approximately 7% of first-year med students report experiencing recurring images of their cadaver specimens post dissection. As many as 5% experience intrusive images that affect learning capacity. This is not something we should look at as a negative aspect of cadaver lab experiences.

Educational and cognitive psychology teaches us that emotions can directly affect how an individual […]

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    First Responders Benefit from Bioskills Training Using Cadavers

First Responders Benefit from Bioskills Training Using Cadavers

As technologies have improved, an increasing number of healthcare personnel receive training that is heavily reliant on simulation. Additionally, mannequins have improved in an effort to increase their lifelikeness. However advantageous current training may be for professionals like EMS and other first responders, there is no way that either virtual reality nor mannequins can replicate the variances of human anatomy. Multiple studies have indicated that surgeons, nurses, and other healthcare professionals demonstrate improved anatomical knowledge after participating in some type of cadaver training. Now, the same is being said of first responders.

Similar to bioskills training courses for surgeons, physicians, and nurses, cadaver training for first responders takes textbook knowledge and translates it into hands-on practice. Listening and watching only takes one so far in their educational advancement. For skills to become fully integrated takes practice. Those who are on the front-lines of medical emergencies have precious minutes in which to make important decisions for their patients. Their skills need to be integrated quickly, preferably before they engage in real-time situations.

Cadaver training for first responders presents the opportunity to practice life-saving interventions such as intubation, chest decompression, emergency tracheotomy, cricothyrotomy, and inter-osteo procedures. These interventions, performed on plastic simulations, provide technical understanding but fall short of enabling the EMT or other professional to fully understand what it is like to work on a human body.

Med Ed Labs is proud to offer cadaver training lab services to paramedics, EMT trainees, fire department personnel, and all other first responders. Hands-on training with a cadaver provides the most realistic experience for healthcare providers. The familiarity with human tissue and internal organs that is gained through cadaver training significantly increases situational awareness during real-life emergencies.

Learn more about our national […]