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ReCleft is a high fidelity reusable training simulator for surgeons around the world.

Cleft lip and/or palate (CLP) is the leading craniofacial anomaly affecting 1 in every 500-700 births. Gaining hands-on experience in cleft surgery can be difficult due to limited access within the infant oral cavity and the delicate tissues of the velum. Even minor errors may lead to complications with serious consequences for the patient. Globally, it is estimated that 250,000 infants are born with cleft lip and/or palate in low resource countries each year and it is estimated that a significant proportion are not repaired. This is, in part, due to a lack of local cleft surgeons. Training in cleft surgery is time and resource-heavy, therefore tools which can accelerate the learning curve are of significant interest. Simulation allows surgeons-in-training to gain experience in a low-risk, low-stress environment. The current simulators for cleft palate surgery are either over-simplified or prohibitively expensive. The current, and only, commercially sold simulator costs £261 per surgery.

The ReCleft simulator comprises of a training service package offering a unilateral cleft palate with silicone soft tissue components, which may be replaced. ReCleftBio is a bioplastic simulator that offers a more sustainable option than silicones. The user may manufacture their own simulators by using locally sourced resources and the moulds provided.

The product was tested in the Plastic and Recontructive Regional Training at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in December 2018. 26 UK specialty trainees attended a 1 hour workshop where 21% increased their knowledge, 18% increased their confidence and 92% strongly agreed it helped them learn and understand the procedure. Currently the simulator is undergoing further product validation with lead surgeons in the UK and abroad.

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