Developing an anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion simulator for neurosurgical resident training

Wilson Z. Ray, Aruna Ganju, James S. Harrop, Daniel J. Hoh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND:: Surgical simulators are useful in many surgical disciplines to augment residency training. Duty hour restrictions and increasing emphasis on patient safety and attending oversight have changed neurosurgical education from the traditional apprenticeship model. The Congress of Neurological Surgeons Simulation Committee has been developing neurosurgical simulators for the purpose of enhancing resident education and assessing proficiency. OBJECTIVE:: To review the initial experience with an anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion (ACDF) simulator. METHODS:: The first ACDF training module was implemented at the 2012 Congress of Neurological Surgeons Annual Meeting. The 90-minute curriculum included a written pretest, didactics, a practical pretest on the simulator, hands-on training, a written posttest, a practical posttest, and postcourse feedback. Didactic material covered clinical indications for ACDF, comparison with other cervical procedures, surgical anatomy and approach, principles of arthrodesis and spinal fixation, and complication management. Written pretests and posttests were administered to assess baseline knowledge and evidence of improvement after the module. Qualitative evaluation of individual performance on the practical (simulator) portion was included. RESULTS:: Three neurosurgery residents, 2 senior medical students, and 1 attending neurosurgeon participated in the course. The pretest scores were an average 9.2 (range, 6-13). Posttest scores improved to 11.0 (range, 9-13; P = .03). CONCLUSION:: Initial experience with the ACDF simulator suggests that it may represent a meaningful training module for residents. Simulation will be an important training modality for residents to practice surgical technique and for teachers to assess competency. Further development of an ACDF simulator and didactic curriculum will require additional verification of simulator validity and reliability. ABBREVIATIONS:: ACDF, anterior cervical diskectomy and fusionCNS, Congress of Neurological SurgeonsOSATS, objective-structured assessment of technical skill

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S100-S106
Issue numberSUPPL. 4
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion
  • Residency education
  • Simulator
  • Spine surgery
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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