A live porcine model for surgical training in tracheostomy, neck dissection, and total laryngectomy



Head and neck surgery is associated with a steep learning curve, creating a need for effective training methods. Live animal models can be useful in acquiring the required skills and techniques to perform tracheostomy, neck dissection, and laryngectomy. The aim of this study is to assess the feasibility and usefulness of a porcine model to teach tracheostomy, neck dissection, and laryngectomy, describing the similarities between a swine head and neck surgical model and the human cervical area.


Twelve surgical training sessions were held with the use of a live porcine model maintained under general anaesthesia; a total of 39 procedures were performed. In each session, one otolaryngology resident per year performed a procedure to acquire the targeted competencies for their respective year of training. Each procedure was time recorded and evaluated based on a modified Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills. Linear regression was used to analyse the data and express the results as percentages.


Training exercises were performed in shorter times over the study period. A 9% reduction in the time spent was observed. There was a global improvement in the evaluation made by OSATS score of 6% in the first period (2018–2019) and 58% in the second period (2019–2020).


The porcine model was both manageable and helpful in providing training despite slight anatomical differences between human beings and pigs. However, more studies are necessary to guarantee that the competencies acquired with this type of training are transferable to real-life interventions.

Level of evidence

Level 5.

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The authors declare that they have no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in this paper. Nothing to disclose.

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Correspondence to Ignacio Alcalá Rueda.

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Alcalá Rueda, I., Villacampa Aubá, J.M., Encinas Vicente, A. et al. A live porcine model for surgical training in tracheostomy, neck dissection, and total laryngectomy. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00405-021-06613-y

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  • Resident education
  • Training program
  • Head and neck
  • Laboratory animal model