Simulation trainer for practicing emergent open thoracotomy procedures

Allan J. Hamilton, Hannes Prescher, David E. Biffar, Robert S. Poston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background An emergent open thoracotomy (OT) is a high-risk, low-frequency procedure uniquely suited for simulation training. We developed a cost-effective Cardiothoracic (CT) Surgery trainer and assessed its potential for improving technical and interprofessional skills during an emergent simulated OT. Materials and methods We modified a commercially available mannequin torso with artificial tissue models to create a custom CT Surgery trainer. The trainer's feasibility for simulating emergent OT was tested using a multidisciplinary CT team in three consecutive in situ simulations. Five discretely observable milestones were identified as requisite steps in carrying out an emergent OT; namely (1) diagnosis and declaration of a code situation, (2) arrival of the code cart, (3) arrival of the thoracotomy tray, (4) initiation of the thoracotomy incision, and (5) defibrillation of a simulated heart. The time required for a team to achieve each discrete step was measured by an independent observer over the course of each OT simulation trial and compared. Results Over the course of the three OT simulation trials conducted in the coronary care unit, there was an average reduction of 29.5% (P< 0.05) in the times required to achieve the five critical milestones. The time required to complete the whole OT procedure improved by 7 min and 31 s from the initial to the final trial - an overall improvement of 40%. Conclusions In our preliminary evaluation, the CT Surgery trainer appears to be useful for improving team performance during a simulated emergent bedside OT in the coronary care unit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-84
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • Cardiothoracic
  • Medical
  • Simulation
  • Surgical education
  • Thoracotomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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