Validation of a low-cost simulation strategy for burn escharotomy training

Irene Y. Zhang*, Mark Thomas, Barclay T. Stewart, Eleanor Curtis, Carolyn Blayney, Samuel P. Mandell, Vance Y. Sohn, Tam N. Pham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Escharotomy is the primary effective intervention to relieve constriction and impending vascular compromise in deep, circumferential or near-circumferential burns of the extremities and trunk. Training on escharotomy indications, technique and pitfalls is essential, as escharotomy is both an infrequent and high-risk procedure in civilian and military medical environments, including low-resource settings. Therefore, we aimed to validate an educational strategy that combines video-based instruction with a low-cost, low-fidelity simulation model for teaching burn escharotomy. Methods: Pre-hospital and hospital-based medical personnel, with varying degrees of burn care-related experience, participated in a one-hour training session. The first part of the training consisted of video-based instruction that described the indications, preparation, steps, pitfalls and complications associated with escharotomy. The second part of the training consisted of a supervised, hands-on simulation with a previously described low-cost, low-fidelity escharotomy model. Participants were then offered two psychometrically validated instruments to assess their learning experience. Results: 40 participants were grouped according to prior burn care and surgical experience: attending surgeons (6), surgery and emergency medicine residents and fellows (26), medical students (5), and pre-hospital personnel (3). On two psychometrically validated questionnaires, participants at both the attending and trainee levels overwhelmingly confirmed that our educational strategy met best educational practices on the criteria of active learning, collaboration, diverse ways of learning, and high expectations; they also highly rated their satisfaction with and self-confidence under this learning strategy. Discussion: An educational strategy that combines video-based instruction and a low-cost, low-fidelity escharotomy simulation model was successfully demonstrated with participants across a broad range of prior burn care experience levels. This strategy is easily reproducible and broadly applicable to increase the knowledge and confidence of medical personnel before they are called to perform escharotomy. Important applications include resource-limited environments and deployed military settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2059-2065
Number of pages7
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Burn
  • Compartment syndrome
  • Decompression
  • Eschar
  • Escharotomy
  • Full-thickness
  • Third degree


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