Home Made IV Access Ultrasound Phantoms

home made IV access ultrasound phantom

We recently had the 3rd Tanzanian Conference on Emergency Medicine. Point of Care Ultrasound (PoCUS) training was one of the pre-conference workshops. Ultrasound-guided intravenous cannulation can be very challenging for many doctors in the emergency department.

Therefore, we had a station providing a real-time opportunity to practice IV access using our homemade ultrasound phantoms. And I shall share with you how we came up with this solution.


Ingredients for making the mixture
Ingredients for making the mixture
Food coloring dye
Food coloring dye
Equipment for making vessels
Equipment for making vessels

How to make your mixture

Take a cooking pot and fill it with 1200 mls of water (we used this as our molding device could accommodate this amount of mls) bring it to a boil (just as it begins to form tiny bubbles on the base add gelatin powder 8 tablespoons and stir with a hand mixer until it completely dissolves. Thereby add 2 tablespoons of Metamucil and 1 tablespoon of detergent and continue stirring with low flame until the mixture begins to thicken. At this point, you will also see foam that sits on top of the mix. Use a sieve to get the foam out. You can, at this point, add any colors that you would want. Let the mixture cool a little before pouring it into the container. As it cools, you will notice it becoming thicker.

How to set-up your mold/containers

You will need to make a hole on both ends on the container using a hand drill or a hot pointed knife. For this case, since we didn’t have a drill, we used a knife with a pointed tip – heated it up in a burner until it was hot enough and used it to make holes through the plastic container using a circular motion. It is important for the holes not to be too big but estimated to the caliber/ diameter of the long balloons since we need just enough space to pass the balloons across.

For our case, we made 4 holes, 2 on each end. But you can do more if you want. You can arrange balloons in superficial or deeper locations.

To setup the vessels using the long balloons, you will need half cup of water and red color dye. Mix just enough to make a mixture that looks like blood. This can be filled in the balloons with a syringe. Since the color dye can stain your fingers, it is important to use gloves just to prevent your fingers from staining.

Tip: To make an artery, you can fill the balloon much more so that there is minimal compressibility and for the vein, you can fill just enough and have room for compressibility. Don’t fill the balloons before passing it through the container; if you do this, the filled balloon won’t manage to fit into the holes. Once fixed, tie both ends to make knots that are big enough to cover the seal the holes made.
Before pouring the mixture into the container, spray it with some oil, or you can use a cloth dip it in oil and apply it on the inside of the container.

After that, pour your mixture in the container and let it cool. You can place it in the refrigerator and use it the next day. We left ours for 24 hrs prior use.

You can use silicone seals at the holes if you notice to have any leaks. Otherwise, if you don’t have this, you can use plastic food wrap to create a seal between the balloon knots and the container just so the mixture does not leak out until it has set.

Cooling in the refrigerator, note the plastic food wraps used as seal here and the knots
Cooling in the refrigerator, note the plastic food wraps used as seal here and the knots
6 hours after refrigeration
6 hours after refrigeration
Final product
Final product

And finally, the images that you will have on ultrasound.

Short axis/transvers view
Short axis/transvers view
Long/longitudinal axis view
Long/longitudinal axis view
TACEM - IV access workshop under US guidance
TACEM - IV access workshop under US guidance
Cite this article as: Masuma Ali Gulamhussein, "Home Made IV Access Ultrasound Phantoms," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, November 18, 2019, https://iem-student.org/2019/11/18/home-made-iv-access-ultrasound-phantoms/, date accessed: July 6, 2022

The Medical Emergency Simulation Olympics – G.SEM

the emergency medical simulation olympics

The use of realistic simulation on medical teaching is increasingly being used in the universities of Brasilia. The controlled environment training brings important benefits and develops the non-technical skills of participants. Therefore, the Congress of Medical Emergencies of the Federal District that took place this month in Brasilia, Brazil, promoted a realistic MEDICAL EMERGENCY SIMULATION OLYMPICS (literal translation: Gincana de Simulação em Emergências Médicas – G.SEM) with medical and nursing students. The participants felt tremendous satisfaction and acknowledgment of their own flaws that must be improved before they graduate.

However, what does realistic simulation mean? By definition, “it is the technique, not technology, for reproducing or amplifying real experiences by guided experiences that evoke or replicate substantial aspects of the real world in a fully interactive way.” That is, we set up environments of low, medium or high complexities that mimic reality. This way, the participant can emerge in practice without putting the patient at risk.

Through Kolb’s experiential learning cycle, we can understand how learning occurs during simulation.

kolb learning cycle

During the simulation, the participant takes part in concrete experience, being able to identify knowledge gaps in which he can work. At the debriefing, the instructor helps the gamer to contemplate his performance.

When the participant gives meaning to what has happened, he becomes able to abstract and modify his mental model, which will be tested with active experimentation, generating a concrete reaction.

When simulating, not only theoretical knowledge is required, but also practical knowledge, such as how to do and how to act when facing the proposed situation. Doing this kind of exercise, we can better assimilate the content in a playful and effective way. Through error, and the reframing of debriefing, the participant can retain the content with the experience that will come across in the real environment.

The simulation was first used in the aerospace industry, where one mistake could cost many lives. Therefore, the practice of simulation in medicine is indispensable since we work directly with human lives. Train, train and train! This is the emergency mantra! Because by the time you are in the Emergency Department, acting, you already need to know what to do. The time to make mistakes is in the simulation. Moreover, it’s important to keep in mind that an error-free simulation is not a simulation, it is just a theater.

It is possible to divide this learning method into some levels. Through Miller Pyramid, we can analyze the clinical capacity in four levels: know, know-how, show-how, and does. Simulation is increasingly used to teach the first three levels, as it enables the programming of specific environments and conditions to the needs of each participant, promoting a favorable outcome.

Is it like playing pretend? Yes. The simulation can be compared to a pretend play. We can’t reproduce the exact reality, so we set up a fiction contract, where the instructor admits that the simulation is not real but tries to reproduce it as faithfully as possible, and the participants agree to act as they would in real situations.

Therefore, if during a high complexity simulation, a patient with low oxygen saturation needs intubation, for example, the participant must act by observing vital signs on the monitor, asking for drugs, infusing, ventilating, and intubating the doll and not just saying what he would do.

The Chiniara et al Simulation Zone Matrix, commonly used to demonstrate the teaching of simulation in pediatric emergencies, can be extended to emergencies in general. Simulation becomes advantageous over other teaching methods in low-opportunity, high-severity situations, quadrants where emergency is, due to low student exposure and increased concern for patient safety.

With simulation, it is possible to practice technical and non-technical skills, for example, interaction with the multidisciplinary team, leadership, communication and crisis management, which is almost impossible in a classroom.

When we promoted the G.SEM – Emergency Simulation Gymkhana – held by the EMIGs in Brasilia, we had many positive feedbacks from participants, and proved to be effective in exposing to participants points that they needed to improve to raise the level of their clinical practice.

Participating in G.SEM was a very exciting experience for me, as I was able to review important concepts and behaviors in various pathologies, including the approach to cardiopulmonary arrest. It was also a very interesting emotional experience, as we had a short time to make decisions since all patients had life-threatening pathologies that needed fast decisions and actions. In this context, an adrenaline over-discharge and, consequently, tachycardia were generated, generating significant stress that leads us to the real process of approaching a critically ill patient. In addition, one of the most important positive points was the team performance, as the team consisted of 2 medical and one nursing student, so we needed to work together, respect each other and make our communication were efficient and clear. Through the scenarios, it was possible to see how much we improve as a team, and in the final scenario, we were already much more intertwined and acting in a much more organized way compared to the first one. I also emphasize the importance of the evaluator’s feedback at the end of each season, as this allowed us to identify the errors and to correct them in the following simulations and, of course, to future. Finally, it was a unique opportunity that certainly made me grow very intellectually and also allowed me to improve the relationship with the team, which is indispensable in a multidisciplinary context.

says Lucas, a medical student who participated in the simulation scenarios.

There were six simultaneous scenarios, including two pre-hospital scenarios that were assembled by firefighters. G.SEM took place at the Uniceplac Realistic Simulation Center, with the support of the DF Fire Department, and the International Student Association of Emergency Medicine (ISAEM).

Content and Details

The simulation itself already causes some anxiety in the participant, since it demonstrates its flaws and puts in check all its theoretical knowledge that should be applied in a practical way. During our emergency simulation game, we noticed an increased level of anxiety and stress from participants. It is believed that the necessity of quick decision making that the emergency requires and the short time of the season were determining factors. However, participants reported that the multidisciplinary team made the simulation environment different, that’s because nursing students do not have realistic simulations as a requirement in their course, and it’s not common the integration between the courses in a simulation scenario.

As a lesson of this event, we conclude that it is extremely important to integrate the programs in the undergraduate years, and we can use the simulations as a convergence point. It’s important to remember that the Emergency Department only works with a cohesive multidisciplinary team. One of the goals of G.SEM was to demonstrate to students this reality and break the barrier between programs by showing that the work in the Emergency Department is teamwork and that always needs team training!

References and Further Reading

  1. Gaba DM. The future vision of simulation in healthcare. Simul healthc 2007;  2(2): 126-35
  2. Cheng A, Duff J, Grant E, Kisson N, Grant VJ, Simulation in paediatrics: An educational revolution. Paediatri Child Health. 2007; 12(6): 465-8
  3. Kolb DA. Experiential learning: Experience as the souce of leatning and development.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall; 1984
  4. Zigmont JJ, Kappus LJ, Sudikoff SN. Theoretical foundations of learning through simulation. Semin Perinatol. 2011; 35 (2): 47-51
  5. Paizin Filho A, Scarpelini S. Simulação: Definição: Medicina (ribeirao Preto). 2007; 40(2): 162-6
  6. Miller GE. The assessment of clinical skillscompetence/performance. Acad Med. 1990; 65 (9 Suppl): S63-7
  7. Couto TB. SImulação realistica no ensino de emergências pediátricas na graduação. São Paulo. 2014.

Reviewed by: Bruna Martins, Jule Santos and Henrique Herpich

Cite this article as: Rebeca Rios, Brasil, "The Medical Emergency Simulation Olympics – G.SEM," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, October 30, 2019, https://iem-student.org/2019/10/30/the-medical-emergency-simulation-olympics-g-sem/, date accessed: July 6, 2022