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Evgenii Belykh, Ting Lei, Sam Safavi-Abbasi, Kaan Yagmurlu, Rami O. Almefty, Hai Sun, Kaith K. Almefty, Olga Belykh, Vadim A. Byvaltsev, Robert F. Spetzler, Peter Nakaji and Mark C. Preul

OBJECTIVE

Microvascular anastomosis is a basic neurosurgical technique that should be mastered in the laboratory. Human and bovine placentas have been proposed as convenient surgical practice models; however, the histologic characteristics of these tissues have not been compared with human cerebral vessels, and the models have not been validated as simulation training models. In this study, the authors assessed the construct, face, and content validities of microvascular bypass simulation models that used human and bovine placental vessels.

METHODS

The characteristics of vessel segments from 30 human and 10 bovine placentas were assessed anatomically and histologically. Microvascular bypasses were performed on the placenta models according to a delineated training module by “trained” participants (10 practicing neurosurgeons and 7 residents with microsurgical experience) and “untrained” participants (10 medical students and 3 residents without experience). Anastomosis performance and impressions of the model were assessed using the Northwestern Objective Microanastomosis Assessment Tool (NOMAT) scale and a posttraining survey.

RESULTS

Human placental arteries were found to approximate the M2–M4 cerebral and superficial temporal arteries, and bovine placental veins were found to approximate the internal carotid and radial arteries. The mean NOMAT performance score was 37.2 ± 7.0 in the untrained group versus 62.7 ± 6.1 in the trained group (p < 0.01; construct validity). A 50% probability of allocation to either group corresponded to 50 NOMAT points. In the posttraining survey, 16 of 17 of the trained participants (94%) scored the model's replication of real bypass surgery as high, and 16 of 17 (94%) scored the difficulty as “the same” (face validity). All participants, 30 of 30 (100%), answered positively to questions regarding the ability of the model to improve microsurgical technique (content validity).

CONCLUSIONS

Human placental arteries and bovine placental veins are convenient, anatomically relevant, and beneficial models for microneurosurgical training. Microanastomosis simulation using these models has high face, content, and construct validities. A NOMAT score of more than 50 indicated successful performance of the microanastomosis tasks.