Grant Application

Debraj Mukherjee, MD, MPH, UPMC Presbyterian

Proposed Innovation

Intracranial aneurysms are among the most deadly conditions patients experience, often complicated by brain hemorrhage, stroke, or death. Treatment traditionally involves open surgery (craniotomy) — complex, multi-staged operations requiring refined technical skills and a detailed understanding of neuroanatomy.

There currently is an urgent need for novel simulation training models in which open surgical approaches can be taught to the next generation of neurosurgeons. The goal of this innovative project is to produce and test a more realistic aneurysm simulator involving cadavers.

Improvements in Action

Through this project, a small balloon catheter filled with saline and a contrast dye will be placed in cadaver specimens to create a simulated aneurysm. Trainees will then perform craniotomies and microsurgical dissections, just as they would in an actual operating room.

This model will be tested during UPMC’s biannual skull base courses —four-day programs attended by approximately 32 trainees of all skill levels from around the world. Trainees will be divided into two groups — one using the novel simulators with balloon “aneurysms,” and the other group using traditional cadaver simulators without the aneurysm in place — to compare changes in confidence and technical knowledge.


This realistic aneurysm simulator is expected to validate a new process in the pedagogy of training neurosurgeons to treat aneurysms. It is believed that it will shorten the learning curve, producing a cohort of practitioners capable of performing safer surgical clipping with better outcomes for patients.