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01.12.2015 | Technical advance | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Nephrology 1/2015

Teaching percutaneous renal biopsy using unfixed human cadavers

BMC Nephrology > Ausgabe 1/2015
Scott W. Oliver, Rajan K. Patel, Khalid A. Ali, Colin C. Geddes, Bruce MacKinnon
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

None of the authors have any financial or non-financial competing interests to disclose.

Authors’ contributions

All authors made substantial contributions to the conception, design and delivery of the described course, and the collation and analysis of evaluation data. SO, RP and KA drafted the manuscript, which was critically revised for important intellectual content by CG and BM. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Authors’ information

SO is registered with the University of Glasgow higher research degree programme, where he is pursuing a PhD programme investigating factors relating to “achieving patient safety at scale”. He is an Honorary Clinical Fellow and Nephrology Registrar in NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, and Clinical Teaching Fellow in Medical Education in NHS Lanarkshire. His research is funded by NHS Lanarkshire Medical Education Department. He was awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Health Professions Education (with Distinction) by the University of Glasgow in July 2014.
RP is a Nephrology Registrar in NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, and Clinical Lecturer within the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow.
KA is a Radiology Registrar in NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde.
CG is Honorary Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Medicine, University of Glasgow; and Consultant Nephrologist in NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde.
BM is Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer and Honorary Clinical Teacher in the School of Medicine, University of Glasgow; and Consultant Nephrologist in NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde.



Percutaneous renal biopsy (PRB) is an important diagnostic procedure. Despite advances in its safety profile there remains a small but significant risk of bleeding complications. Traditionally, operators train to perform PRB through tutor instruction and directly supervised PRB attempts on real patients. We describe an approach to teaching operators to perform PRB using cadaveric simulation.


We devised a full day course hosted in the Clinical Anatomy Skills Centre, with places for nine candidates. Course faculty consisted of two Consultant Nephrologists, two Nephrology trainees experienced in PRB, and one Radiologist.
Classroom instruction included discussion of PRB indications, risk minimisation, and management of complications. Two faculty members acted as models for the demonstration of kidney localisation using real-time ultrasound scanning. PRB was demonstrated using a cadaveric model, and candidates then practised PRB using each cadaver model.


Written candidate feedback was universally positive. Faculty considered the cadaveric model a realistic representation of live patients, while the use of multiple cadavers introduced anatomical variation.


Our model facilitates safe simulation of a high risk procedure. This might reduce serious harm associated with PRB and improve patient safety, benefiting trainee operators and patients alike.
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