Teaching Palatoplasty Using a High-Fidelity Cleft Palate Simulator

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2018 Jan;141(1):91e-98e. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000003957.


Background: Cleft palate repair is a challenging procedure for cleft surgeons to teach. A novel high-fidelity cleft palate simulator has been described for surgeon training. This study evaluates the simulator's effect on surgeon procedural confidence and palatoplasty knowledge among learners.

Methods: Plastic surgery trainees attended a palatoplasty workshop consisting of a didactic session on cleft palate anatomy and repair followed by a simulation session. Participants completed a procedural confidence questionnaire and palatoplasty knowledge test immediately before and after the workshop.

Results: All participants reported significantly higher procedural confidence following the workshop (p < 0.05). Those with cleft palate surgery experience had higher procedural confidence before (p < 0.001) and after (p < 0.001) the session. Palatoplasty knowledge test scores increased in 90 percent of participants. The mean baseline test score was 28 ± 10.89 percent and 43 ± 18.86 percent following the workshop. Those with prior cleft palate experience did not have higher mean baseline test scores than those with no experience (30 percent versus 28 percent; p > 0.05), but did have significantly higher scores after the workshop (61 percent versus 35 percent; p < 0.05). All trainees strongly agreed or agreed that the simulator should be integrated into training and they would use it again.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates the effective use of a novel cleft palate simulator as a training tool to teach palatoplasty. Improved procedural confidence and knowledge were observed after a single session, with benefits seen among trainees both with and without previous cleft experience.

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Cleft Palate / surgery*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / methods*
  • Male
  • Orthognathic Surgical Procedures / education*
  • Palate / surgery*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Simulation Training / methods*
  • Surgery, Plastic / education*