Background: Arthroscopic surgical simulation, including the use of cadaveric tissue, is valuable for training orthopedic surgery residents. However, it is unclear how often fresh-frozen cadaveric tissue can be reused to provide a reproducible model for developing arthroscopic skills. Objective: We determined the usefulness of ultrasound in evaluating tissue degradation in fresh-frozen shoulder and knee joints used for surgical simulation. Methods: Between February 7 and April 11, 2017, orthopedic residents participated in 6 wet lab sessions during 1 rotation. Knee and shoulder specimens were subjected to ultrasound using a SonoSite Edge machine and a linear probe after each freeze-and-thaw cycle. Degradation of each structure was determined based on standards created for living tissue and comparisons to previous images of the same tissue before initial use. Results: Ultrasonographic assessment of the 2 knee and 2 shoulder specimens revealed lost integrity in subcutaneous fat and muscle with evidence of increased hypoechoicity and loss of normal fiber orientation and density in all specimens examined. Tendons, ligaments, cartilage, iliotibial band, and bone did not lose integrity during freezing and thawing. Ultrasonographic assessment revealed no loss of joint structure integrity. However, the intra-articular work assigned for the simulation curriculum had been carried out to a degree that by the third use, little opportunity remained for further arthroscopic practice on that specimen. Conclusions: In this study, ultrasound findings showed that fresh-frozen shoulder and knee specimens maintained structural integrity useful for simulation training after 3 cycles of freezing.
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