Surgical simulation

Unveiling the Realm of Surgical Simulation


Surgery, an arena where precision and expertise wield the power to decide between life and death, necessitates intensive training and an unending pursuit of skill refinement. In the ever-evolving landscape of medicine, technology has unfurled a new dimension in surgical education. Journey with UpSurgeOn as we embark on an expedition into the realm of surgical simulation – a transformative approach that is reshaping the way surgeons are prepared for the high-stakes environment of the operating room.

Surgical simulation: The comprehensive overview  

Surgical simulation involves the utilization of technology to create lifelike surgical scenarios for both trainees and experienced surgeons. The primary objective is to replicate reality so convincingly that trainees feel as though they are facing genuine surgical situations [1]. These simulators serve as invaluable tools for training in a wide array of surgical skills, encompassing basic techniques, minimally invasive procedures, and complex surgeries.

AneurysmBox, One of Simulation Technologies of UpSurgeOn. Source: UpSurgeOn

There are many different types of surgical simulators, ranging from simple benchtop models to complex virtual reality (VR) systems. Some simulators use real tissue or organs, while others use synthetic materials. Some simulators are designed to focus on specific skills, such as suturing or knot-tying, while others are designed to simulate entire surgical procedures.

Over the past two decades, surgical simulation has undergone significant evolution and is now an integral component of training. It offers numerous advantages over traditional methods such as cadaver dissection and live animal surgery. Simulators enable surgeons to refine their skills in a secure and controlled environment, free from patient risk . They also provide immediate feedback, facilitating skill enhancement [2] . This method ingrains technical skills to the point where psychomotor and spatial judgment skills become automatic. This readiness proves valuable in managing intraoperative complications, as opposed to refining skills in real-life situations [3]

The Rise of Surgical Simulators

Neurosurgical trainees experience hand-on training with surgical simulators during Microsurture couse
Hand-on training Microsurture Technique course with surgical simulators. Source: UpSurgeOn

Surgical simulators have grown in popularity as a result of technological advancements and the need to improve patient safety outcomes. The global surgical simulation market size was valued at USD 253 million in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.1% from 2021 to 2028 [4]. Simulation has become a standardized and safe method for training and assessing surgeons, with evidence suggesting that such training may have beneficial clinically relevant effects [5] [6].

The increasing acceptance of 3D printing in surgical simulation is one of the major factors boosting the market for surgical simulation. 3D-printed surgical simulators offer advantages such as rapid design and manufacturing in a cost-effective manner [4]. Additionally, the rising number of surgical procedures globally, driven by the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, has led to a high demand for simulation products to help prevent or reduce medical errors during surgeries [7]

The development of virtual simulation technologies has also enhanced the accessibility of surgical simulators. During the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual simulation was adopted to enhance and strengthen procedural and patient care skills, further driving the growth of the market [7]. Simulators can help aspiring neurosurgeons develop the skills necessary to perform surgeries with greater precision and accuracy, which will ultimately improve patient outcomes.

The importance of surgical simulation 

Neurosurgical trainee practices skull drilling on surgical simulator.Source: UpSurgeOn
Neurosurgical trainees practice skull drilling on surgical simulator.Source: UpSurgeOn

Simulation plays a pivotal role in surgical training, and its importance stems from a variety of reasons. First, it provides a sanctuary for trainees to hone their technical skills prior to exposure to real patients. This preliminary rehearsal ensures a level of competency that greatly reduces the potential risks associated with learning on live patients. [8]

Second, the benefit of simulation lies in its ability to accommodate the constraints of work hour limitations and limited clinical exposure. Trainees can immerse themselves in a controlled environment without the pressures inherent in real-life surgical scenarios. This extended practice period is essential for skill acquisition and experience accumulation.[8]

Furthermore, simulation serves as a crucible for team training and assessment within the surgical environment, rather than a solitary endeavor. It enhances communication, leadership, situational awareness, and mutual support among surgical teams, ultimately improving the quality of patient care. [8]

In essence, the integration of simulation into surgical education stems from both an ethical obligation to provide optimal patient care and a pragmatic need to develop trainees’ skills and knowledge in a safe and effective manner. [8]

FAQ: Navigating the World of surgical simulation

Neurosurgical trainee experiences hand-on training with Virtual Reality technology. Source: UpSurgeOn

Before we wrap up, let’s address some common questions about neurosurgical simulators:

1. Are surgical simulators as effective as real-life surgeries for training surgeons?

Surgical simulators are not a replacement for real-life surgeries, but they can be an effective tool for training neurosurgeons. According to a systematic review, simulation models may allow for a more efficient, feasible, and time-effective acquisition of skills . However, the ultimate goal of simulation is to ensure that skills learned from the simulator can be transferred to the operating room, which is inadequately explored in some reviews. Therefore, simulators can be effective in training neurosurgeons, but they should be used in conjunction with real-life surgeries. [9]

2. What types of procedures can be practiced on surgical simulators?

Surgical simulators cater to a wide range of procedures, from basic suturing to complex surgeries like aneurysm clipping and other neurosurgical procedures. The choice of simulator depends on the specific procedure being practiced. The neurosurgical simulator used in a study published in Frontiers in Surgery (2022) is the UpSurgeOn Box, which combines a virtual and a physical component with an intermediate step to provide a hybrid solution. The virtual part is based on an application that allows for the interactive exploration of 3D anatomical models and animations, both in a purely virtual environment and in an augmented reality (AR) projection of the physical simulator (hybrid). These tools are designed to be integrated into a 3-step training sequence. Therefore, simulators can be used to practice a wide range of procedures, from basic to complex. [10]

3. How do simulators incorporate the human element and unpredictability of real-life surgeries?

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Neurosurgical trainees apply UpSurgeOn’s Augmented Reality technology and surgical simulator during surgical training course. Source: UpSurgeOn

Surgical simulators can incorporate the human element and unpredictability of real-life surgeries by using realistic models and scenarios. For example, UpSurgeOn Box, which is the surgical used in a study published in Frontiers in Surgery, combines a virtual and a physical component with an intermediate step to provide a hybrid solution [10]. The virtual part is based on an application that allows for the interactive exploration of 3D anatomical models and animations, both in a purely virtual environment and in an augmented reality (AR) projection of the physical simulator (hybrid). These tools provide a realistic experience that incorporates the human element and unpredictability of real-life surgeries. Therefore, simulators can provide a realistic experience that incorporates the human element and unpredictability of real-life surgeries.

4. Are simulators accessible to all aspiring neurosurgeons?

The accessibility of simulators to aspiring surgeons may vary depending on the institution. However, simulators have become increasingly accessible and can accelerate training, diminishing time associated with learning procedures and thus potentially reducing the risk for patients [10] [11]. The simulations are available for exploring on the UpSurgeOn website. Therefore, aspiring neurosurgeons who have access to the necessary equipment and facilities can use UpSurgeOn simulators to aid in their training.


In summation, surgical simulation emerges as a transformative luminary in medical education and patient welfare. It serves as a haven for surgeons to hone their skills, mitigate risks, and augment their proficiency, ultimately elevating the standard of patient care. As technology progresses, the future of surgical simulation holds the promise of even more immersive and authentic experiences. In unwavering pursuit of excellence and patient safety, this journey epitomizes a dynamic fusion of innovation and compassion, propelling the art of surgery to new pinnacles and, in the end, enriching the lives it endeavors to save. UpSurgeOn stands as your steadfast companion on this transformative odyssey, committed to furnishing aspiring surgeons with the ultimate conduit to mastery in surgical skills. With our simulation technologies, we not only fortify the safety and efficacy of training but also empower trainees to conquer the challenges in this sphere. Do not hesitate to explore the horizons of simulation technologies on and elevate your surgical career to unprecedented heights!


  1. Woodhouse J. Strategies for Healthcare Education : How to Teach in the 21st Century. Radcliffe: Abingdon, 2007: xi, 153pp
  2. Tan, S. S. Y., & Sarker, S. K. (2011). Simulation in surgery: a review. Scottish medical journal, 56(2), 104-109.
  3. Gallagher AG, Ritter EM, Champion H, et al. Virtual reality simulation for the operating room: proficiency-based training as a paradigm shift in surgical skills training. Ann Surg 2005;241:364 – 72
  4. Surgical Simulation Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Specialty (Cardiac Surgery, Neurosurgery, Transplant), By Material (Metal, Polymer), By End-use (Specialty Center, Hospital), And Segment Forecasts, 2021 – 2028. (n.d.). 
  5. Agha, R. A., & Fowler, A. J. (2015). The role and validity of surgical simulation. International surgery, 100(2), 350-357.
  6. Meling, T. R., & Meling, T. R. (2021). The impact of surgical simulation on patient outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Neurosurgical Review, 44(2), 843-854.
  7. Surgical Simulation market. (2021). In P&S Intelligence.
  8. de Montbrun, S. L., & MacRae, H. (2012). Simulation in surgical education. Clinics in colon and rectal surgery, 25(03), 156-165.
  9. Chawla, S., Devi, S., Calvachi, P., Gormley, W. B., & Rueda-Esteban, R. (2022). Evaluation of simulation models in neurosurgical training according to face, content, and construct validity: a systematic review. Acta Neurochirurgica, 164(4), 947-966.
  10. Petrone, S., Cofano, F., Nicolosi, F., Spena, G., Moschino, M., Di Perna, G., … & Garbossa, D. (2022). Virtual-augmented reality and life-like neurosurgical simulator for training: first evaluation of a hands-on experience for residents. Frontiers in Surgery, 9, 862948.
  11. Takoutsing, B. D., Wunde, U. N., Zolo, Y., Endalle, G., Djaowé, D. A. M., Tatsadjieu, L. S. N., … & Esene, I. (2023). Assessing the impact of neurosurgery and neuroanatomy simulation using 3D non-cadaveric models amongst selected African medical students. Frontiers in Medical Technology, 5, 1190096.

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