The Role of Anatomical Models for Medical Simulation Training

The benefits of training fine motor skills by utilizing a series of simulated procedures are clear. With discussions typically being based on virtual reality software, a crucial component, which contributes highly to successful simulation, is frequently overlooked: the anatomical model.

Physical anatomy is as significant as the virtual anatomy in medical simulation training. In addition to the simulated bit of the procedure, educational value can be enhanced if what is on the outside looks and feels as realistic.

An inseparable part of successful training in a variety of medical specialties is a physically correct anatomical model that can be used by a trainee. For a trainee to familiarize with the procedural area and gather skills most efficiently, a sense of touch is vital.

Training in realistic conditions can only be done if the simulated environment is immersive, providing a combination of true-to-life physical and virtual anatomy: precise anatomy structure to feel and interact with and visuals inside the simulator.

Arthroscopy is a clear example where VirtaMed Knee, Shoulder, Hip, and Ankle models can be manually handled and positioned during the simulation, for different procedural needs such as acquiring the necessary visibility of operating view, just as a surgeon would do in real life.

In medical specialties where manipulation of anatomy is not included in the course of procedure, the anatomical model is just as important to practice placing the patient in the correct position before the start of the procedure – particularly considering the underappreciated risk for injuries which come from incorrect positioning over various disciplines.

A further aspect to think about is that all surgical procedures suggest working closely as a team, including the interactions of different instruments and the correct setup of team members around the patient. It is obvious how an environment such as this, with limited physical space, can be difficult for trainees to work and coordinate movement in.

In surgery, team performance is crucial, so a trainee is required to practice such interactions and communication with his or her peers before entering the OR, which goes with the advantage of having an anatomical model during the simulated procedure.

Additionally, for a trainee to learn to interact with the anatomy and coordinate the visual and physical part of the procedure correctly, the anatomical model should also be correctly shaped and sized to mimic human anatomy and so, provide the possibility to experience the same challenges as in real-life surgery, like difficulty of access to a specific anatomy.

For instance, anatomical models in VirtaMed simulators give guidance for the choice of portals, allowing safe training of portal placement and coordination of instruments.

VirtaMed ArthroS™ Hip anatomical model

VirtaMed ArthroS™ Hip anatomical model. Image Credit: VirtaMed

Another key element, which enables the trainee to develop necessary motor skills, is haptic feedback reproducing the feel of instruments and interactions with tissue or bone throughout the simulated procedure. Tactile sensation is the most subtle interface of simulation. This notion of touch is known as haptics and can be passive or active.

For all these reasons, having a fully articulated, true-to-life, anatomical model available together with highly realistic simulation scenarios is vital for successful and patient safety-focused training. Each part of VirtaMed’s anatomical models is made carefully in close cooperation with medical experts around the globe.

About VirtaMed

VirtaMed is a Swiss company that develops & produces highly realistic surgical simulators for medical training. Surgeons use original instruments to train in a safe environment before performing surgeries on patients.


VirtaMed's vision is to improve the quality of medical care with state-of-the-art, virtual reality based medical training and education.


Our mission is to alter the way medical skills are taught.


As a company, we live innovation in a customer-oriented, agile, diverse and passionate work environment.

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Last updated: May 16, 2020 at 4:46 AM


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