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Virtual temporal bone dissection system: OSU virtual temporal bone system§

Development and Testing


  • The primary institutions where this work was performed were the Ohio Supercomputer Center and The Ohio State University. Other Institutions where work was performed were Duke University, Eastern Virginia University, Henry Ford Health System, University of Iowa, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, University of Mississippi, University of Texas, Southwestern, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

  • This work was funded by grant number 1R01DC006458-01A1 from the NIDCD/NIH. The authors have no other funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.

  • §

    This article is a Triological Thesis for Gregory J. Wiet. It was selected by the Triological Society Council to received Honorable Mention in the Mosher clinical research competition and will be presented at the Combined Sections Meeting, January 26–28, 2012.



The objective of this project was to develop a virtual temporal bone dissection system that would provide an enhanced educational experience for the training of otologic surgeons.

Study Design:

A randomized, controlled, multi-institutional, single-blinded validation study.


The project encompassed four areas of emphasis: structural data acquisition, integration of the system, dissemination of the system, and validation.


Structural acquisition was performed on multiple imaging platforms. Integration achieved a cost-effective system. Dissemination was achieved on different levels including casual interest, downloading of software, and full involvement in development and validation studies. A validation study was performed at eight different training institutions across the country using a two-arm randomized trial where study subjects were randomized to a 2-week practice session using either the virtual temporal bone or standard cadaveric temporal bones. Eighty subjects were enrolled and randomized to one of the two treatment arms; 65 completed the study. There was no difference between the two groups using a blinded rating tool to assess performance after training.


A virtual temporal bone dissection system has been developed and compared to cadaveric temporal bones for practice using a multicenter trial. There was no statistical difference between practice on the current simulator compared to practice on human cadaveric temporal bones. Further refinements in structural acquisition and interface design have been identified, which can be implemented prior to full incorporation into training programs and used for objective skills assessment.

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