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Cadaver Labs

UC San Diego’s Center for the Future of Surgery is proud to be the largest and most advanced facility to host cadaver labs in Southern California, with 22 general surgery stations, a hybrid OR for interventional navigation and a 15-station microsurgery suite. Surgeons and health practitioners from UC San Diego and other leading institutions utilize cadaver labs to hone their skills and develop new surgical procedures and best practices.

Dr. Santiago Horgan, UC San Diego Professor, Chief of Minimally Invasive Surgery and Director of CFS, has developed this innovative center in order to set a new standard for surgical training. “Surgeons need to re-educate themselves with evolving technology. CFS allows its guests to step into the future of surgery, and immerses them in an environment with the latest and greatest tools, from laparoscopic to robotics. This is the center that is redefining how we teach and changing how we learn.”

CFS Cadaver Labs allow for hands-on experience to develop life-saving skill-sets. Dr. Alexander Khalessi, Chair and Professor of Neurosurgery at UC San Diego explains, “When you’re drilling around critical structures, the margin for error is on the orb of millimeters and you don’t want to have that experience for the first time in a live patient, so being able to have a resource where people can practice and get comfortable with the anatomy is really important in terms of training the next generation of surgeons.” Dr. Khalessi and his team have further used cadaver labs to innovate within their field byvetting new technologies, such as testing a 4K exoscope in a cadaver head dissection in order to investigate visibility prior to utilizing the device on live cases at Jacobs Medical Center. 

Additionally, medical device companies and industry partners host cadaver courses for product testing and staff and surgeon training. Medical organizations also frequently incorporate cadaver labs into their annual conferences to showcase the leading tools and techniques within their specialties. Strategies such as incorporating perfusion with the cadavers to mimic blood flow are also in development to further enhance the effectiveness of surgical simulation.

CFS’ cadavers are sourced from UC San Diego’s Body Donation Program, conveniently located nearby on the School of Medicine campus. This program shares CFS’ goals of contributing to medical education and innovation, and is one of the largest providers of human cadavers in the nation. The UC San Diego Body Donation Program prides itself on “service that is compassionate as well as competent” and does its best to ensure maximal use of all cadavers.

CFS provides a full support staff, including an event coordinator, to assist with planning, as well as experienced lab technicians to provide on-site support to ensure a successful event.