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08.05.2020 | Original Contribution Open Access

Simulation of life-like distal humerus and olecranon fractures in fresh frozen human cadaveric specimens

Obere Extremität
PD Dr. K. Wegmann, N. Ott, M. Hackl, T. Leschinger, S. Uschok, A. Harbrecht, J. Knifka, L. P. Müller



Economic burden and personnel shortages lead to a reduction in the time spent on surgical training of young resident physicians. This underlines the importance of courses for learning and optimizing surgical skills. Particularly for orthopaedic trauma surgery, training on fractured cadaveric specimens has proven highly useful. The present study investigates a method to induce realistic fracture patterns in fresh frozen elbow specimens, leaving the skin and soft tissue envelope intact.


For fracture simulation, 10 human cadaveric specimens with intact soft tissue envelopes were placed in 90° flexion in a custom-made high-impact test bench and compressed by an impactor. The fractures were subsequently classified using conventional x‑rays.


Of the 10 specimens, 6 could be classified as distal humerus fractures and 4 as olecranon fractures. The fractures of the distal humerus were mainly type C according to Arbeitsgemeinschaft Osteosynthesefragen (AO) criteria, the olecranon fractures were mainly type IIB according to the Mayo classification. Subsequently, all 10 specimens would have been appropriate for use in musculoskeletal trauma courses.


With the given setup it was possible to induce realistic fracture patterns in fresh frozen cadaveric specimens. The advantage of the presented technique lies in the preservation of soft tissue. With their intact soft tissue envelopes, these pre-fractured preparations could be used in courses to precisely train resident physicians directly on human cadaver preparations. Further research should focus on finding reliable predictors to improve the precision of fracture induction in specimens.

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