Systematic review of live surgical demonstrations and their effectiveness on training

O. Brunckhorst, B. Challacombe, H. Abboudi, M. S. Khan, P. Dasgupta*, K. Ahmed

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)



Live surgical demonstrations are commonly performed for surgical conferences. These live procedures have recently come under scrutiny, in particular with issues pertaining to patient safety. This systematic review aimed to explore the evidence for live surgery as a training tool, and to investigate the safety of live surgical broadcasts.


PubMed, Embase, MEDLINE and Cochrane Library databases were searched using a predefined search strategy from January 1980 to October 2013. Specialty Societies and primary Colleges of Surgeons were searched for guidelines or position statements on live surgical teaching.


Educational value criteria demonstrated for live surgery included feasibility, acceptability, construct and concurrent validity. Complication rates during live procedures were not compromised in the majority of studies. Patient safety, however, may be affected during live procedures as success rates have been found to be lower in some studies. Only Cardiothoracic, Urology and Vascular Surgical Societies currently offer guidelines on conducting live surgical demonstrations.


Little evidence exists on the safety and educational value of live surgery, with few studies of high quality conducted. Guidance on live procedures is scarce, with only three major surgical specialties offering any advice. More needs to be done to establish and promote evidence for the value of live surgery demonstrations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1637-1643
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Surgery
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


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