Journal of Surgical Simulation 2015; 2: 18 - 21

Published: 27 February 2015


Original article

A low-cost, non-biologic, thoracentesis and thoracostomy simulator

James Yon, Caleb J. Mentzer, Bao-Ling Adam and Lester Young
Corresponding author: James Yon, Department of General Surgery, 1120 15th Street, Augusta, GA 30912, USA. Email:


Background: Increasing emphasis is being placed on simulation for education of practitioners. Simulation has been validated as a useful educational tool for learning invasive procedures in a low-stress environment where expert guidance can be used to increase proficiency and confidence for multiple skills. A low-cost, non-biologic simulator does not currently exist for thoracentesis.

Materials and Methods: A home-made thoracentesis and percutaneous thoracostomy simulator was constructed from readily available materials. After viewing instructional videos and after a lecture and demonstration, students were asked to perform thoracentesis and thoracostomy.

Results: All students were eventually able to use the model to perform the procedures without prompting or guidance. Some students had minor technical errors in catheter placement or advancement, which were corrected. After reviewing the error, they were then able to go on to successful placement of the catheter. No student caused a pneumothorax in the simulation.

Conclusions: The model is a cost-effective, easy to make solution for teaching thoracentesis and thoracostomy


Thoracentesis; thoracostomy; simulator; surgical education