Research Article: Pig as a large animal model for posterior fossa surgery in oto-neurosurgery: A cadaveric study

Date Published: February 26, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Mohamed Elsayed, Renato Torres, Olivier Sterkers, Daniele Bernardeschi, Yann Nguyen, Johannes Boltze.


This study proposes a practical model for a new approach to the posterior fossa in common domestic pigs. Several surgical procedures can be simulated in the nonliving pig model, including soft tissue dissection, drilling of temporal bone, dural incision, access to the cerebellopontine angle, exposure of cranial nerves and drilling of the internal auditory canal. The pig model perfectly simulates standard otological and neurosurgical procedures, and we highlight the feasibility of our approach for further experiments in a living pig model with the possibility of reproducing the model for research on cranial nerves in pigs to study their electrophysiological behavior.

Partial Text

Many models have been described in the literature for otological and neurosurgical training and education including cadaveric dissection of human temporal bone, synthetic materials such as artificial temporal bones, animal models and recently, computer-based simulation models. The gold standard training is still human cadaveric temporal bone as this represents the most realistic model. Unfortunately, the availability of human temporal bone is becoming increasingly difficult and limited for legal, economic, and ethical reasons. Thus, temporal bones of animals, which are readily available at low cost, represent an excellent alternative [1, 2].

Seven adult heads of common domestic pigs (Sus scrofa domestica) were acquired from a regional slaughterhouse and dissected within 12 hours postmortem at our INSERM-UMR-S 1159 Laboratory, and two heads were dissected directly postmortem at the anatomy laboratory at Fer a Moulin Animal Hospital, Paris, France.

In the current literature, many studies have tried to find alternatives to human temporal bone in otological and neurosurgical training and research. Several models have been described, including nonliving animal models [1, 2, 6, 13–15]. These are readily available at low cost and may also offer a very realistic similarity to human anatomy in comparison to other synthetic materials. Temporal bones of sheep and pigs have been proposed by many authors as alternatives for otological education because the middle ear and tympanic membrane of both animals are morphologically similar to the structures found in human ears [2, 5].

The outer appearance of the temporal bone of pigs differs markedly from that of humans; however, using our approach, the pig can offer a modeled surgical environment that can be used as an outline for surgical training of otologists and neurosurgeons using nonliving and living models. It can also be used in further research work on facial and cochlear nerve testing and the study of their neurophysiological behavior.




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