Bollen, PJA, Remie, R, Kloots, W, Barfred, L, Salomon, S, Ritskes-Hoitinga, M. Post-graduate teaching in microsurgery using a combination of alternative non-animal and in vivo methods. Scandinavian Journal of Laboratory Animal Science, 32(3)


Over recent years alternative, non-animal methods have been developed for use in microsurgical training courses, for the training of suture techniques, dexterity and hand-eye coordination. Nevertheless, it is still hard to imagine that alternative methods will be able to replace in vivo teaching completely, because properties of biological tissue are different from those of latex or other artificial materials. Also the dynamics of biological processes, such as a pulsating bloodstream, are difficult to simulate in alternative models. However, the number of animals used in microsurgical training courses can be limited by combining non-animal methods with in vivo training. Moreover, individual techniques can be improved greatly by using non-animal methods. In a five-day introductory course in microsurgical and experimental techniques at the Biomedical Laboratory, University of Southern Denmark, we have limited the average number of animals to one rat per day per participant, by using alternative non-animal methods extensively on the first course day. Nearly all participants were able to produce a successful end-to-end anastomosis of the femoral artery during the second or third day of the course. The alternative methods used included a training device for microsurgical anastomosis and the MD PVC-Rat, an artificial rat with life-size latex abdominal vessels.