Remie R, Rensema H, te Kiefte J, van Wunnik G. Teaching surgical techniques in the twenty-first century. Paper presented at: The Three Rs - Together it's possible. 8th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences; 2011 Aug 21-25; Montreal, Canada


The use of microsurgical techniques is increasing all over the world, necessitating the training of more and more people in microsurgical skills. Traditionally, live animals have been used for this purpose, and in rather large numbers, as it often takes seventy or more attempts for a person to learn the necessary skills. Students are faced with tough problems at the same time, to master the hand-eye co-ordination techniques whilst simultaneously assuring the animal's welfare. On top of that the knowledge on the animals' anatomy is most often disappointing. The result is too often the untimely death of the animal.

The Microsurgical Developments Foundation has a clear policy of reducing, refining or replacing animal use wherever possible. We wanted to apply this admirable policy to the problem described above. Our basic innovative idea was that in the same way that physical models have been used throughout the ages to teach anatomy; it should be possible to build a suitable life-like model for the teaching of anatomy (MD 3-D Anatomical Rat Model), whilst the surgical procedures could be trained using the MD PVC-Rat. Students could separately learn all anatomical structures involved and the different skills needed before moving on to live animal experiments. Several aspects of both models will be discussed, together with the results that our students obtain

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Link to journal: ALTEX - Alternatives to Animal Experimentation