To become competent and confident in any skill, repetition is critical. When it comes to suturing, there are numerous studies highlighting the need for hands-on practice that is repeated at regularly spaced intervals. A study published in JAMA Dermatology found that students need to perform an average of 74 suture procedures over the course of 30 days to achieve basic proficiency . After this point, suture skills need to be revisited periodically in order to be maintained. Given the amount of practice required, it is critical that educators are able to provide their students with quality materials that maximize reusability and will last long past the length of a course.
Quality of Materials
In the hands-on, simulation-based training proven to be most effective for learning skills like suturing, students need physical, life-like materials to actually practice on . Unfortunately, these best-practices are often stymied when students and programs see the price tag of quality suture pads and kits. Many students instead opt for practicing on pigs’ feet. While these bear a passing resemblance to human tissue and are often incredibly cheap at grocery stores, the skin on them is tough and they just do not provide quite the same experience that practicing on a real subject would. Students may also develop poor technique and bad habits when practicing on materials that do not adequately mimic human tissue. Poor suture practice as a result of these habits can lead to scarring, infection and slower recovery times.
There are numerous reusable suture kits on the market at a range of price points. It is not uncommon for students to purchase a cheap suture kit to practice on or for an educator to supply low-cost kits as part of a class set. Practicing with these pads is absolutely preferable to only learning the theory of suturing and similar skills. However, cheaper kits are often made with lower quality materials, and this can quickly become a problem for students.
Low quality suture pads rip easily, with entire chunks of silicone tearing out as sutures and knots are pulled tight. This severely limits the lifespan and usefulness of a kit. It can also pose a danger to users who are not expecting their suture to pop out of the torn silicone. After tearing a low-quality suture pad, students need to purchase one, or even two, additional pads in order to get the practice they need to achieve proficiency. The cost and inconvenience of multiple pads begins to add up quickly.
Price per suture
When selecting suture pads and similar tools, it can be helpful to consider cost-per-suture rather than just looking at the upfront, initial price. This is where SurgiReal’s products shine; while they have a higher initial cost, their durability and reusability ultimately make them a more cost-effective choice. On SurgiReal’s standard 3-layer pad, students will get 750 individual sutures. On the small 6-layer pad, this jumps to 1,500 sutures. The large 6-layer pads will take over 3,000 sutures and allow up to 10 reuses. The price of all of these breaks down to approximately $0.03-0.04 per suture. This ends up being an even better value than pigs’ feet, which come to approximately $0.07 per suture.
For educators dedicated to maximizing savings for their students, this is a significant jump in quality. It would even be feasible to purchase a large pad - which is so large that single individuals rarely use it to the end of its lifespan - and lend it to students across multiple years and cohorts, thus maximizing reusability.
Other SurgiReal Products
These numbers hold true for other SurgiReal products as well. For example, expensive manikins purchased for phlebotomy training often begin leaking after repeated use. Programs that have invested in these must then purchase expensive replacement parts. In contrast, SurgiReal has a Human Vascular Access Sleeve that can take over 400 pokes without issue. The sleeve costs less than the replacement parts for most manikins, and the replacement pad for it is just $55.
Reusability is one of our core tenets at SurgiReal. We want to empower our students and educators by providing quality materials they can count on. Our kits and materials pay for their upfront cost over and over with greater longevity, higher quality, more realistic material, and a better overall student experience.
- Routt, E., Mansouri, Y., de Moll, EH., Bernstein, DM., Bernardo, SG. & Levitt, J. “Teaching the Simple Suture to Medical Students for Long-term Retention of Skill.” JAMA Dermatol. 151, no. 7 (2015):761–765. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.118
- Khunger, N. & Sushruta K. "Mastering surgical skills through simulation-based learning: practice makes one perfect." Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery. 9, no. 1 (2016): 27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc4812884/