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Department of Surgery

Surgical Simulation & Skills LaboratorySurgical Education

With recent trends in post graduate medical education such as work-hour restrictions and the increased complexity of surgical techniques, learning basic skills in the OR has become a difficult option.

The Surgical Simulation & Skills Laboratory at The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is an integral part of the Department of Surgery's residency program.  Here at Texas Tech, there is a strong emphasis on laparoscopy or minimally invasive surgery, an exciting and rapidly growing technology used by nearly all surgical specialties.

In this lab, the technical skills, the principles of laparoscopy, the principles of surgery and the hands on practice with feedback has been implemented.  The main facility consists of a laboratory area in the Department of Surgery at the Texas Tech University on the third floor of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Building. The lab itself measures 650 sq. ft. with additional access to the animal lab facility and cadaver lab.

The surgery department's first-year surgical residents use the lab to prepare them for their experiences in the operating room. Midlevel and senior residents continue to develop and refine their technical skills. This curriculum is based on the ACS/APOS technical skills curriculum, phase one and two. In addition to the general surgery residents, residents from other surgery specialties will use the lab, including orthopedics, OB-GYN and urology.  Third-year medical students learn basic surgical skills like suturing and knot tying at the center as well.

  • The lab is equipped with two computers to allow for internet access as well as multimedia presentations.
  • Pig's feet and vessels are provided for surgeons to practice basic suture skills and enteric or vascular anastomotic techniques on organic tissue.
  • Four towers with monitors and light sources support the four box trainers to practice laparoscopic skills such as: tissue manipulation and dissection, application of Endo-Loops, and intra/extra-corporeal knot tying.
  • The laparoscopic box trainers are used to practice the skills that comprise the Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) program, developed by SAGES and jointly supported by the ACS. FLS is a comprehensive educational module designed to teach the fundamental, technical skills required in basic laparoscopy.

Every effort is made to make the program at the intern level applicable to all surgical specialties by including topics such as:

  • Proper instrument handling;
  • Basic and advanced open suture skills;
  • Introduction to laparoscopic surgery

The Surgical Simulation & Skills Lab is also open for the residents to return independently and practice 7 days a week.  Our facility is used for skills sessions and workshops by the departments of OB-GYN, Urology, and Orthopedics.

The Texas Tech Department of Surgery also is a member of Texas Association of Surgical Skills Labs (TASSL). Dr. Ari Halldorsson is a past president. TASSL's mission is to enhance education using simulation-based training for surgery residents and other learners by fostering collaboration and research.

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