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J Surg Res. 2013 Aug;183(2):553-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2013.02.005. Epub 2013 Feb 27.

Advanced Surgical Skills for Exposure in Trauma (ASSET): the first 25 courses.

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The Norman M. Rich Department of Surgery, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA.



The Advanced Surgical Skills for Exposure in Trauma (ASSET) course was developed to address limited experience of residents and practicing surgeons (PS) in rapid exposure of major blood vessels for trauma. This one day, case based, scenario driven, fresh cadaver dissection course emphasizes rapid surgical exposure of the vasculature of the neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis and extremities with additional focus on fasciotomies and pelvic packing. Contained herein are the results of the first 25 courses.


Data collected from 25 ASSET courses conducted between September 2010 and February 2012 included self-reported comfort level (5 point Likert scale) with each of 25 specific skills before and upon completion of the course, and evaluation of the course content. Statistical analysis was accomplished using the Student t-test with α set at P < 0.05.


Ninety-one surgical trainees and 123 PS were taught at 11 ASSET sites. Self-assessed comfort levels for all 25 queried skills and exposures improved significantly over baseline with P values ranging from 1.6 × 10(-7) to 3.9 × 10(-41). Participants gained new knowledge (4.83 on 5 point scale); learned new techniques (4.83), felt better prepared to expose traumatically injured vessels (4.88), and would recommend the course to a colleague (4.92).


The ASSET course was well received and significantly improved self-reported confidence in the exposures needed to care for trauma in both surgical trainees and PS. Ongoing experience with this course will enable more comprehensive psychometric analysis and further validation of this curriculum.


Cadaver course; Surgical education; Surgical skills course; Trauma; Vascular exposure

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