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Medical simulation mannequins: potential for improvement discovered in respiratory anatomy

(Vienna 25th May 2012) A team of researchers at the University Department of Anaesthesia, General Intensive Care and Pain Management at the MedUni Vienna has discovered significant potential for improvement in the respiratory anatomy during a current study involving medical simulation mannequins. Only six out of 19 important parameters matched in a comparison between the mannequins and humans. “Consequently, we are calling for better simulation in future with more realistic mannequins,” says study leader Karl Schebesta from the MedUni Vienna’s simulation centre.  

“Human” simulation mannequins are used to practice airway management and the possible necessary interventional procedures such as intubation or the use of laryngeal masks to keep the airways open. “We have discovered that inexperienced doctors coped well with the mannequins, but experienced clinicians fared less well,” says Schebesta.

The reason for this was highlighted in the study which has now been published in the top specialist magazine Anesthesiology: the respiratory anatomy was investigated using computer tomography (CT) on six different simulators and 20 humans. The result: “The mannequins are not realistic enough. Even the most expensive mannequin only matched humans on six points. Many of the volumes and distances are completely wrong.”

Simulation mannequins for cardio-respiratory resuscitation virtually perfect

Since the importance of simulation in medicine is without question, the MedUni Vienna researchers are calling for “improved mannequins that actually reflect reality”. Until then, simulations in various areas of training need to be looked at with a critical eye, says Klaus Markstaller, head of the Clinical Department of General Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at the MedUni Vienna. Although the simulation is sub-optimal for airways management, the simulation of cardio-respiratory resuscitation is “virtually perfect”. Comparative studies that have been carried out on the simulator can moreover not be transferred on a 1:1 basis to humans - and this of course also applies to studies from the past.

Service: Anesthesiology
Airway Anatomy of High-fidelity Human Patient Simulators and Airway Trainers.“ K. Schebesta, M. Hüpfl, B. Rössler, H. Ringl, M. Müller, O. Kirnberger. Anesthesiology 2012; 116:1-1.