An unembalmed cadaveric preparation for simulating pleural effusion: A pilot study of chest percussion involving medical students.

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Anatomical sciences education, ISSN: 1935-9780, Vol: 10, Issue: 2, Page: 160-169

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Cook, Mark S; Kernahan, Peter J
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Cadaveric simulations are an effective way to add clinical context to an anatomy course. In this study, unembalmed (fresh) cadavers were uniquely prepared to simulate pleural effusion to teach chest percussion and review thoracic anatomy. Thirty first-year medical students were assigned to either an intervention (Group A) or control group (Group B). Group A received hands-on training with the cadaveric simulations. They were instructed on how to palpate bony landmarks for identifying the diaphragm and lobes of the lungs, as well as on how to properly perform chest percussion to detect abnormal fluid in the pleural space. Students in Group B practiced on each other. Students in Group A benefited from the training in several ways. They had more confidence in their percussive technique (A = mean 4.3/5.0, B = 2.9/5.0), ability to count the ribs on an intact body (A = mean 4.0/5.0, B = 3.0/5.0), and ability to identify the lobes of the lungs on an intact body (A = mean 3.8/5.0, B = 2.3/5.0). They also demonstrated a greater ability to locate the diaphragm on an intact body (A = 100%, B = 60%) and detect abnormal pleural fluid (A = 93%, B = 53%) with greater confidence (A = mean 3.7/5.0, B = 2.5/5.0). Finally, the hands-on training with the unembalmed cadavers created more excitement around learning in Group A compared with Group B. This study shows that simulating pleural effusion in an unembalmed cadaver is a useful way to enhance anatomy education. Anat Sci Educ 10: 160-169. © 2016 American Association of Anatomists.