Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2013

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Donald D. Anderson

First Committee Member

Thomas D Brown

Second Committee Member

Geb W Thomas

Third Committee Member

Matthew D Karam


Articular fracture reduction is a complex surgical task that requires surgeons to be competent at multiple surgical skills to successfully complete. The list of skills needed includes the ability to use fluoroscopic images to build a 3D mental model of the fracture during reconstruction, the proper handling and use of surgical instruments, how to manipulate the fracture fragment into a reduced configuration with minimal hand motion, proper k-wire placement, and the preservation of surrounding soft tissues. Current training methodology is based on an apprenticeship model. The resident learns by watching a senior surgeon, and then preforms the procedure on live patients under the guidance of the senior surgeon to gain competence. This endangers the patient and does not provide the best outcome for either patient or resident.

The work presented in this thesis is the early development of an articular fracture reduction simulator, the subsequent use of the simulator in the training of orthopaedic residents, and assessment of the improvement of residents after practice on the simulator. To date, the simulator has been tested on four different groups of residents,3 different groups from the University of Iowa and one group from the University of Minnesota. Considerable effort has been made to validate the improvement seen in resident performance through objective means. The Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills (OSATS) is a global rating score and procedural checklist that has been previously validated to objectively measure surgical skill. Other assessment metrics include hand motion capture to count the number of discrete actions and measure distance traveled during the surgical procedure, fluoroscopic usage and radiation exposure, articular `step-off', the surface deviation from an intact or ideal reconstruction, and contact stress exposure.

The results indicate that the goals for the simulator have been met, that the simulator provides a means of training orthopaedic residents, assessing improvement, decreased the cost of training, and improved patient safety. The simulator is not without limitations including sample size, and radiation exposure. The task being trained is complex and can be broken down into basic subtasks that could be trained individually. Even with flaws, the simulator is an improvement over current training methods and is an excellent first step toward creating a surgical skills curriculum to comply with new mandates from orthopaedic surgery's governing bodies.


Contact Stress, Motion Capture, Orthopaedics, OSATS, Simulation, Surgical Skills


x, 106 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 97-106).


Copyright 2013 Gary Thomas Ohrt