Cadaver training module for teaching thoracic pedicle screw placement to residents

P. Justin Tortolani, Bradley W. Moatz, Brent G. Parks, Bryan W. Cunningham, John Sefter, Ryan M. Kretzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Surgical training using simulators has been shown to be highly effective but is not available for some applications and is too expensive for many programs. The authors piloted a cadaver-based module with the goal of objectively measuring and significantly improving orthopedic residents' surgical skills in placing thoracic pedicle screws, an advanced procedure. An experienced spine surgeon placed thoracic pedicle screws in 7 cadavers (T1-T12) to establish the skilled accuracy rate. For this pilot study, 3 orthopedic residents unfamiliar with the procedure were given didactic training for safe thoracic pedicle screw insertion. Each resident instrumented alternating sides of 5 consecutive cadavers (T1-T12). Screw positions were graded by computed tomography in a blinded fashion, with accuracy defined as no shank breach of the pedicle or vertebral body. Results were reviewed with the residents, instruction was repeated, and alternating sides of 5 cadavers were instrumented by the residents. The experienced surgeon accurately placed 67 (82%) of 82 pedicle screws. Residents accurately placed 80 (44%) of 180 pedicle screws in the initial set of specimens and 105 (58%) of 180 pedicle screws in the second set of specimens (P=.01). Accuracy varied significantly among residents before but not after computed tomography review. The study's results show that a cadaver-based training module that resembles the clinical setting can be used to teach complex surgical skills to orthopedic residents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e1128-e1133
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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