Significant variation exists in microsurgery training resources provided across plastic surgery residency programs, and dedicated microsurgery courses can be logistically difficult to access (cost, location, protected time, etc). Widespread use of personal digital technology has facilitated the emergence of resources that enable easily accessible microsurgical training through digital modalities that augment traditional training. The authors sought to conduct the first systematic review of all such resources.
A systematic review of MEDLINE, PubMed Central, and EMBASE was performed according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-analysis guidelines to identify articles describing easily accessible microsurgery training resources. Additional searches on Google, the iOS application store, the Google Play store, and YouTube were conducted using comparable search terms.
Nineteen articles describing easily accessible digital microsurgery training resources were identified, which included 9 interactive and 10 passive training resources. Interactive resources included methods for using smartphones, tablets, and computers to provide magnification for microsurgical skill training. Passive resources included training videos, educational forums, and 3-dimensional anatomical models. Google search revealed an additional interactive, commercially available device for positioning a smartphone above a microsurgical training platform. iOS Store and Google Play search revealed 5 passive training applications with tutorials and technique videos. YouTube search revealed 146 videos on microsurgical technique and training models from 19 users with verifiable affiliations.
In contrast to costly and variable microsurgical courses and laboratories, digital technology gives trainees the opportunity to learn about and practice microsurgical techniques in any setting at any time and can serve as a valuable adjunct to traditional training modalities.