You were able to get the funding and space to open a bioskills lab. Congratulations! A lab build-out benefits from an organized plan. To help plan your facility, let's look at cadaver lab station layout, lab equipment budgeting, and location. These are the three primary considerations when planning a cadaver lab. Whether you are setting up a cadaver lab with five stations or 50 stations, it is crucial to have the layout, equipment, and location to be successful.
1. Cadaver Lab Station Layout
The first step in laying out the lab is to determine the number of cadaver stations that can fit into the space and accommodate the attending surgeons. Even if all stations are not used in every lab, having additional stations allows for the maximum bookings at your facility. Next, specify the size of the lab stations needed for the number of attending surgeons. Certain cadaver tables allow multiple surgeons to work on one cadaver at the same time. Size each station for several surgeons to work comfortably around the table while having the available tools and accessories nearby. It is frustrating to walk around other surgeons or across the room to get instruments or change out a piece of power equipment. Finally, evaluate space above the lab stations to mount surgical lights and video gear. Lights and equipment can clutter the area above the station and impede the function of the procedures. Creating adequate room for the equipment or acquiring items sized for the space will allow for a more effortless flow during the lab.
2. Lab Equipment Budgeting
There are six primary types of equipment that should be included in the budget for your cadaver lab build-out.
1. Cadaver Lab Tables
Most bioskills labs are set up similar to an operating room. However, labs utilize cadaver tables as opposed to surgical tables. There are a variety of cadaver table tops available including stainless steel and radiolucent tables which are designed to work with C-arms. Cadaver tables are made in different sizes to accommodate your facility's space. They include optional removable trays to hold instruments near the surgical area. Tables are available with a fixed height, manual height adjustment, or electric height adjustment.
2. Power Equipment and Manual Instruments
In addition to cadaver tables, the lab may need to be equipped with both manual surgical instruments and surgical power tools for each station. Determine the type of surgical power equipment based on the specializations offered by your lab. Will your lab specialize in hips? If so, you will need to budget for high-power, large-bone power tools. Conversely, if your lab will focus on hands and feet, budget for lower-cost, small-bone tools with less power and torque. Your facility will need multiple sets of power equipment and instruments – typically one set at each station – including attachments for each drill or saw system.
3. Sterile Processing and Cleanliness
The lab should be equipped with a suction unit and smoke evacuator to lock away biohazards. Cadavers contain bodily fluids that require disposal in order to keep the surgical area clean. To further cleanliness, provide disposable supplies in various sizes such as surgical gloves, gowns, head covers, masks, and shoe covers. Furnish the lab with storage and dispensers for disposable supplies. Providing covers for instrument trays and cadaver stations will further maintain sanitary conditions in the lab.
Identify a separate cleanroom to sterilize and sanitize the equipment after lab use. Equip the lab with easily accessible Scrub sinks and decontamination stations to clean personnel and equipment prior to entering the cleanroom. Place the sinks and decontamination stations close to the lab stations to reduce the chance of fluid dripping. Scrub sinks and decontamination stations may need to be built-in during construction and therefore should be identified early on in the budget and scheduling process.
4. Lights, Camera, and Capturing the Action
Lighting is vital within a surgical setting. Whether you provide headlights, mobile, or ceiling-mounted lights, budget for highest performing surgical lights you can afford. To record or broadcast lab procedures to another room for training, install video monitors and recording equipment to include microphones and cameras. Equip the lab with viewing monitors if your facility does not have a spectating area. Multiple viewing monitors will allow observers to see the surgical field when they are not able to watch firsthand over the lead surgeon's shoulder. Providing cameras during the lab sessions also lessens the likelihood of individuals snapping photos of a cadaver. Controlling the photographed content preserves the integrity and privacy of your facility and the donated individual.
5. Imaging and X-ray
C-Arms are among the highest cost items needed for a bioskills lab. Most surgeons want to see the placement and attachment of implants during training. C-Arms require a large upfront purchase as well as an X-ray technician to operate the unit. If you are hosting a large lab, one C-Arm will not be adequate. Carefully calculate your budget for C-Arms or radiolucent equipment.
6. Odds and Ends
Odds and ends such as back tables, instrument trays, cautery units, and small accessories should be included in your lab budget. Accessories are not expensive individually, but collectively are costly and could exceed the budget if not considered initially.
For more information on how to obtain equipment, read our Options for Obtaining Cadaver Lab Equipment or 5 Tips for Buying Orthopedic Powered Surgical Tools.
Having a lab facility in a large city near a major international airport is beneficial for the surgeons and doctors who will be traveling to the lab. Locating your facility in an area with amenities and attractions may be more enticing for surgeons because they will be able to enjoy local activities after hours. Location can be a determining factor when surgeons are considering which bioskills labs to attend. Having your bioskills lab in a prime area may increase the demand for your labs.
Human dissection has been around for centuries. Surgeons want to learn the newest and most efficient ways to work on the human body, and cadaver labs allow for this while using the most modern tools and equipment. Having a carefully executed floor plan, available equipment, and a prime location are all key to having your lab be in demand by medical professionals.