Operation pågår i operationsrum i bakgrunden av den här bilden.
Photo: Getty Images

Training using cadavers makes surgery safer


Enabling surgeons to train using a cadaver contributes significantly to patient safety, but there is a shortage of donated bodies. One surgeon happy to have had the chance to train in this way is Arnar Tulinius, a specialist in ear, nose, and throat diseases at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.

Ear-nose-throat is a major specialist area, encompassing virtually all diseases affecting the head and neck region. Surgeons in the field can perform a variety of procedures with varying degrees of difficulty.

Huge value for surgeons

Arnar Tulinius had the opportunity to calmly practice a complicated procedure twice on a cadaver before the time came to operate in a real-life situation. For him, it provided a great sense of confidence to first perform the operation in a controlled setting, where making a mistake would not have serious consequences.

“You can assist when others operate or read as much literature as possible, but that is a far cry from performing the surgery yourself and being responsible for the operation. Being able to train on a cadaver was very valuable for me.”

Prevents complications

Thanks to the availability of a donated body, Tulinius could practice one of the more difficult procedures in ear-nose-throat surgery, removing the salivary gland at the ear. If the surgeon accidentally damages the facial nerve during the procedure, it can affect the patient’s facial expressions and facial mobility after surgery.

“The risk of this complication is small, but it exists. As a surgeon, you are very aware of this when you operate. The fact that I had the opportunity to practice on a cadaver made it go smoothly when I performed the actual operation for the first time. I was calm because I knew exactly what it would look like and how to perform the necessary steps.”

Arnar Tulinius in OR
Photo: private picture.
Photo: privat bild.

More donations needed

He expresses his great respect for the people who choose to donate their bodies:

“I do not know what convinced them to donate their body for education in anatomy and surgery, but I wish they could have experienced the great value of their gift. It means so much to surgeons who need training, and even more so to patients who have access to safer surgeons.”

But not all surgeons who want to train on cadavers can do so because of the lack of donated bodies. So far about 500 people have chosen to enter into agreements with the University of Gothenburg to donate their bodies, but more are needed.

“The available bodies are used as much as possible, and in the best possible way. During the training two surgeons have had to work together, taking turns to carry out certain steps during the procedure so that everyone has had a chance to do something. I hope this can be available to more surgeons who need training for more complicated surgeries.”

Learn more about body donations: