Utilisation of a 3D printed ex vivo flexor tendon model to improve surgical training

Published:November 20, 2021DOI:



      Surgery for hand trauma accounts for a significant proportion of the plastic surgery trainee activity. The aim of this article is to create a standardised simulation training module for flexor tendon repair techniques for residents prior to their first encounter in the clinical setting.


      A step-ladder approach flexor tendon repair training with four levels of difficulty was conducted using a three-dimensional (3D) printed anatomical simulation model and a silicone tendon rod on a cohort of 28 plastic surgery Senior House Officers (SHOs) of various stages in their training (n=28). Assessment of knowledge (online questionnaire) and practical skills using validated score systems (global rating scale and task specific score) was performed at the beginning and end of the module by hand experts of our unit.


      The overall average knowledge-based scores of the cohort pre- and post-assessment were 1.48/5 (29.6%) and 3.56/5 (71.5%), respectively. The overall average skills-based scores of the cohort pre- and post-assessments were 3.05/5 (61%) and 4.12/5 (82.5%), respectively. Significant (p<0.01) difference of improvement of knowledge and skills was noted on all trainees. All trainees confirmed that the training module improved their confidence with flexor tendon repair.


      We demonstrate a standardised simulation training framework that employs a 3D printed flexor tendon simulation model proven to improve the skills of residents especially during their early learning curve and which paves the way to a more universal, standardised and validated training across hand surgery.


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