A comparison of Thiel and formalin embalmed cadavers for thyroid surgery training

R. Eisma, S. Mahendran, S. Majumdar, D. Smith, R. W. Soames

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    75 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: The European Working Time Directive has increased the need for surgical skills training which does not involve patients. Recent changes in the anatomy legislation now make it possible to perform surgical procedures on human cadavers. Standard formalin embalming, however does not provide a very realistic model and alternative approaches, such as Thiel soft-fix embalmed cadavers, should be explored and evaluated.

    Methods: Two formalin and 3 Thiel embalmed cadavers were used at a senior trainee and consultant course in thyroid surgery. The 12 participants (8 trainees and 4 consultants) were asked to score 15 aspects, such as quality of different tissues, for each type of cadaver. Some of these aspects were specific to thyroid surgery, however many are equally applicable to other specialties.

    Results: All participants rated the Thiel embalmed cadavers better or equal for all aspects. Of the 180 pairs of scores 33 were excluded, 10 were equal for formalin and Thiel, while in the remaining 137 Thiel scored better. The preference was particularly pronounced in aspects that require flexibility of tissues such as flap raising.

    Conclusions: Thiel embalmed cadavers provide a more realistic model for training of thyroid surgical skills; this is expected to be similar for many other types of surgery. (C) 2010 Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (Scottish charity number SC005317) and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)142-146
    Number of pages5
    JournalSurgeon: Journal of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of Edinburgh and Ireland
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


    • Embalmed cadavers
    • Surgical training
    • Thyroid surgery


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