FA info icon.svgAngle down icon.svgMedical skill data
Part of ETALO Bone Drilling Module
Required time 1 hour
ETALO Model Matrix - Update.pdf

Learning how to build a bone simulator is the focus of this module. Learners will build bone simulators from available materials in their communities. This page highlights the different kinds of bone simulators that can be made by a learner so that they can practice drilling bone.

Read through the information below about the different types of bone drilling simulators.

There are three different levels of simulators to chose from: Basic, Simple and Advanced

Basic: A basic simulator consists of just the bone layer and something to hold it. This simulator is best to practice very basic drilling - for those that are not familiar/comfortable with using a drill.

Simple: A simple simulator consists of a bone layer, a periosteal layer and a plunge detector. This simulator is great for a learner who has practiced basic drilling and is ready to work on improving their control of the drill and avoiding plunging beyond the far cortex.

Advanced: An advanced simulator consists of a bone layer, periosteal layer, plunge detector, muscle and skin. This simulator is ideal for the more advanced learner who has practiced good drill control on a basic and simple simulator and would like to practice on a model that simulates an actual surgical patient - an incision needs to be made through the skin, dissection carried down through muscle and onto the bone.

Notes on choosing your simulator:

  • We recommend you start with a basic simulator.
  • Choose materials that are affordable and readily available for you. Be mindful that some materials are harder to source than others.
  • Once you practice and feel comfortable with basic bone drilling you can move on to more advanced skills that require more complex simulators.
Read through the information below about the different layers of the bone drilling simulator and possible materials for each.

Basic layers of a bone drilling simulator:

Below is a list of the layers/ materials that you will need to build your simulator. More advanced simulators involve more layers.

Layer Material Options
Bone - PVC or PPR Pipe
  • Bamboo
  • Animal Bone
  • Play-dough Pipe
Periosteum - Glycerin, Gelatin, Cassava Flour Mixture
  • Play-dough (soft, not cooked)
  • Sponge
  • Pipe Insulation (Rubber or Poly-Foam)
  • Banana/Matooke/Plantain Peels
  • Foam Sheets
  • Silicone
Plunge Detector - Buzzer
  • Light
  • Clay
Muscle - Play-dough
  • Cassava flour paste
  • Gelatin with steel wool
  • Foam/sponge
Skin - Cassava/glycerin/gelatin mixture
  • Silicone
  • Upholstery/fabric/textured vinyl
  • Liquid Latex
Stabilizer - Clay
  • Play-dough
  • C-Clamp
  • Wood frame

A note on simulator materials to choose from:

  • Every learner will have different constraints on what materials are available, therefore we designed our module for maximum versatility.
  • Start with the "Basic Simulator." As you become more comfortable with basic drilling skills, move on to more advanced simulators. (In the Appropedia links, it goes from Basic to Simple to Complex in terms of simulator complexity)
  • Choose materials that are available locally and affordable to you. Refer to the ETALO Matrix below for options
  • Be mindful of the draw backs of each material (No simulator is perfect)

Notes about animal bones:

  • Fresh animal bones tend to be expensive but are the closest to human bone in their biomechanical properties.
  • When choosing the animals be mindful that the size/breed/age of the animal influence bone size.
  • Try to choose a bone with a diameter similar to bone of the size of human (pediatric versus adult) that you are trying to simulate.
Make a plan with your learning partner and mentor.
  • What is your budget for building the simulator?
  • What type of simulator will you build?
  • What is your timeline for building your simulator?
Choosing materials to build a simulator

This is the ETALO matrix of options for the different layers. You should refer to this when sourcing your materials for your simulator(s).

ETALO Model Matrix - Update.pdf
FA info icon.svgAngle down icon.svgPage data
Part of ETALO Bone Drilling Module
Keywords build, bone, simulator
SDG SDG03 Good health and well-being
Authors ETALO
License CC-BY-SA-4.0
Language English (en)
Related 0 subpages, 4 pages link here
Impact 403 page views
Created August 5, 2021 by ETALO
Modified March 22, 2023 by Emilio Velis
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