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Arch Plast Surg. 2013 Jul;40(4):312-9. doi: 10.5999/aps.2013.40.4.312. Epub 2013 Jul 17.

A systematic review of evidence for education and training interventions in microsurgery.

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  • 1Academic Plastic Surgery Group, Centre for Cutaneous Research, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK.


Over the past decade, driven by advances in educational theory and pressures for efficiency in the clinical environment, there has been a shift in surgical education and training towards enhanced simulation training. Microsurgery is a technical skill with a steep competency learning curve on which the clinical outcome greatly depends. This paper investigates the evidence for educational and training interventions of traditional microsurgical skills courses in order to establish the best evidence practice in education and training and curriculum design. A systematic review of MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PubMed databases was performed to identify randomized control trials looking at educational and training interventions that objectively improved microsurgical skill acquisition, and these were critically appraised using the BestBETs group methodology. The databases search yielded 1,148, 1,460, and 2,277 citations respectively. These were then further limited to randomized controlled trials from which abstract reviews reduced the number to 5 relevant randomised controlled clinical trials. The best evidence supported a laboratory based low fidelity model microsurgical skills curriculum. There was strong evidence that technical skills acquired on low fidelity models transfers to improved performance on higher fidelity human cadaver models and that self directed practice leads to improved technical performance. Although there is significant paucity in the literature to support current microsurgical education and training practices, simulated training on low fidelity models in microsurgery is an effective intervention that leads to acquisition of transferable skills and improved technical performance. Further research to identify educational interventions associated with accelerated skill acquisition is required.


Clinical competence; Curriculum; Education; Microsurgery

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