What is it about?

Lymphedema affects over 200 million people worldwide with 1 in every 5 breast cancer survivors affected. Plastic surgeons treat lymphedema using microscopic surgery (supermicrosurgery) to reconstruct lymphatics as small as 0.2mm in diameter. However, these techniques require considerable skill and practice to master. This article outlines easy methods to learn and practice lymphatic reconstruction using the foot of a pig.

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Why is it important?

The rising costs and ethical concerns associated with the standard live rat training model coupled with the lack of fidelity of chicken wing methods have made learning supermicrosurgery challenging. Our pig foot model provides a cheap, convenient and realistic practice method, taking advantage of the close similarities between pig and human tissue.

Perspectives

The overwhelming majority of people suffering from lymphedema are from low and middle income countries. Sadly, there is a growing gap in microsurgical practice between developed and developing countries partly driven by high training costs. Development and promotion of simple, affordable training methods such as this pig foot model will help bridge that gap and bring lymphatic reconstructive microsurgery closer to the people who need it the most.

Dr Chihena Hansini Banda
Mie Daigaku

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This page is a summary of: A supermicrosurgery pig foot training model for practice of lymphaticovenular anastomosis, Microsurgery, October 2019, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/micr.30521.
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