Changing the Way Doctors Respond in Surgery

The following story was featured in the Fall 2018 issue of the OneSpirit Magazine.

Dr. Emad Aboud, director of the Microneurosurgery Laboratory at Arkansas Neuroscience Institute at CHI St. Vincent, is changing the way surgeons from around the globe train for surgery. A brilliant neurosurgeon, Dr. Aboud developed the Aboud Model: The Live Cadaver – a surgical training method that allows doctors to practice surgical procedures on cadavers and simulate life-like conditions.

“I knew there had to be a better way to provide surgeons the advanced training they needed, without the enhanced pressure of operating on a live patient,” says Dr. Aboud. “The Aboud Model simulates the human body in terms of anatomy and function: bleeding pulsation and softness of tissue. Using this method, surgery residents and young surgeons get to practice and master surgical methods and techniques without putting patients in any danger.”

Since his initial training in neurosurgery in his home country of Syria, Dr. Aboud has always been interested in improving techniques and the way surgeons train. When he came to the University of Arkansas in 2001, he worked diligently to increase his exposure and surgical experience, so he could take the information back home and serve the people of his country who desperately needed a higher level of care than was readily available.

Dr. Aboud’s idea of a living cadaver model came after he realized the number of complications and deaths that could be prevented with better surgical education. Human cadavers have been used in surgical training for many years, but The Aboud Model is distinctive and provides great practical value for training in a wide range of surgical procedures.

“The technology itself connects human cadavers with artificial blood reservoirs, where arterial side is connected to a pump that provides pulsating pressure inside the arteries,” explains Dr. Aboud. “Because it represents the real human anatomy and simulates live surgery in terms of bleeding and pulsation, it’s an excellent alternative to animal models and can be applied to the whole cadaver or to one specific area of the body like the head, arm or leg.”

Because some medical situations were difficult to recreate in traditional cadaver models, Dr. Aboud’s method makes this type of learning experience more successful. Every year more than 200 neurosurgeons from around the world visit the Arkansas Neuroscience Institute to attend hands-on workshops to practice on this method and train under Dr. Aboud and world-renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Ali Krisht.

“When residents come in and train on this model and perform a procedure, you can see the excitement they feel. Because we can’t train or experience every surgical situation in real time, this method provides invaluable opportunities for residents to practice very complex surgical conditions and prepares them to be better surgeons,” says Dr. Aboud. “Even with advanced training, many residents may not be exposed to every possibility like uncontrolled bleeding from a ruptured aneurysm. When we allow surgeons in training to perform procedures and face the complications that might happen in a live patient, they develop confidence and the skills they need to effectively address the problem and provide the highest level of care possible.”