A new simulation model for skin abscess identification and management

Simul Healthc. 2010 Aug;5(4):238-41. doi: 10.1097/SIH.0b013e3181d87f0f.


Introduction: Cutaneous abscesses are common, and emergency physicians in training must develop competency with abscess identification and management through incision and drainage. Although simulation models can enable proficiency in such skills, current abscess models described in the literature suffer from limitations. The author presents a novel abscess management training simulator evaluated by physicians.

Methods: An artificial abscess wall tunneled near the surface of a chicken breast is injected with mock purulent material to create the simulator. Twenty physicians familiar with abscess identification and management assessed the model. The educational value of the model and its sonographic fidelity were evaluated via closed-ended questions and open-ended feedback.

Results: All 20 physician evaluators agreed that an abscess simulator model would be a useful teaching tool and that this particular abscess model would be a useful teaching tool. The evaluators' found the model to realistically simulate a real abscess, but cited the lack of purulent loculations as a potential limitation. When responding to the statement "the ultrasound image of the simulated abscess appears realistic," all physicians either "strongly agreed" or "agreed" with the statement (n = 20).

Discussion: This new simulation model may be an effective tool to teach skin abscess management. Physicians who evaluated the simulated abscess found that it replicates the classic palpable fluctuance and ultrasound findings of an actual abscess, and it can be surgically incised and drained in a similar fashion. Although physicians agreed that this model would be useful, future studies may validate this task trainer as an effective teaching tool.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / diagnosis*
  • Abscess / pathology
  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Educational Status
  • Humans
  • Models, Educational*
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Skin Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Skin Diseases / pathology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Teaching / methods
  • Washington