Creation of plastinated placentas as a novel teaching resource for medical education in obstetrics and gynaecology

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Introduction Knowledge of the gross anatomy of the placenta is fundamental in order to help identify potential complications during pregnancy. The placenta is difficult to study without a three-dimensional appreciation of its structure. The aim of this study was to develop a collection of plastinated placenta specimens and accompanying clinical educational materials to provide learning resources for placental abnormalities and their associated pregnancy outcomes. These plastinates and educational modules were used as teaching resources for both undergraduate and post-graduate medical trainees in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Methods Placentas were plastinated by S10 silicone plastination. Clinical education materials were created that included ultrasound images, photographs and information on the associated pregnancy outcomes. Utility of the plastinates was assessed using questionnaires completed by 70 medical students and 33 attendees at the 8th and 9th Annual International Human Placenta Workshop held at Queen's University, Kingston, ON. Attendees included graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, medical residents, research investigators and clinicians. Results Data collected demonstrated that 76.7% of medical student (n = 60) and 78.1% of Placenta Workshop attendees (n = 32) preferred plastinates as a supplemental learning resource compared to textbooks and images alone (36.7% and 37.5% respectively). All respondents also expressed the desire to have plastinated placentas available for future learning opportunities. Discussion Plastinated placentas are a valuable addition as teaching resources for many demographic groups with an interest in placental anatomy and pathology. Medical trainees and residents in Obstetrics and Gynaecology would benefit from the availability of plastinates as educational tools.




McRae, K. E., Davies, G. A. L., Easteal, R. A., & Smith, G. N. (2015). Creation of plastinated placentas as a novel teaching resource for medical education in obstetrics and gynaecology. Placenta, 36(9), 1045–1051.

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