Feedback from a past participants

Interview with Niroshan Sivathasan a specialist registrar in plastic surgery Queen Victoria Hospital East Grinstead taken from an article written for the Diplomatosis Publication.
Matt Erdmann

The North East Flap Course

Flaps are a method of covering defects and are part of the standard reconstructive armamentarium of plastic and maxillofacial surgeons. There are two main courses in the United Kingdom covering flap surgery: the north east flap course, based in Newcastle; and the Canniesburn practical course on the use of flaps in reconstructive microsurgery, based in Glasgow.

What is it?
The North East Flap Course is run by the Department of Anatomy at the University of Newcastle in conjunction with surgeons from the University Hospital of North Durham and the James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough. The course director is Matt Erdman, a consultant hand and plastic surgeon, and the faculty consists of other senior plastic surgeons.

When did you do it?
I attended the 2009 course at the Department of Anatomy and Clinical Skills Centre in the University of Newcastle Medical School, adjacent to the Royal Victoria infirmary.

Who is it for?
I feel that one must have adequate operating experience to benefit fully from this course - that is, be at registrar level or above. When I attended, however, participants varied in seniority from senior house officers to consultants and most were in plastic surgery, but there were maxillofacial and orthopaedic trainees too. There was an appreciable international element with participants from Holland. Italy, Japan, Poland, and Spain.

How was it structured?
It is a one week course concentrating on the practical anatomy of flaps for all the regions of the body and is based wholly in dissecting rooms, where delegates get first-hand experience in raising flaps. Practical’s are preceded by lectures, which serve to provide a clinical perspective and go over the anatomy and approach required for the subsequent dissections. Places on the course are limited to 28, so that there are four people per cadaver. This ratio permits good experience with raising flaps and distinguishes the course from others, which for instance tend to have six people per dissection table. I found the course a sociable experience too, with numerous organized evenings out.

What was the timetable like?
The course covers a variety of reconstructive techniques including skin flaps, fascial flaps, muscle flaps, musculocutaneous flaps, and free tissue transfer. This is part of the schedule in brief, giving examples of the flaps covered.

Morning - Head and neck: temporal, forehead. scalping, Karapandzic.
Afternoon - Anterior superior trunk: trapezius, pectoral major and minor, deltopectoral

Morning – Posterior superior trunk: lateral dorsi, serratus anterior, scapular, parascapular
Afternoon – Posterior inferior trunk: superior gluteal artery perforator (SGAP) , inferior gluteal artery perforator (IGAP) – Anterior inferior trunk:

Morning - Upper limb: deltoid, lateral arm, posterior interosseous
Afternoon – Upper Limb: radial forearm Quaba, Foucher, Maruyama, cross finger.

Is there an exam?
There are no formal assessments, but a course that is structured like this works on the basis of self-driven learning. Essentially, each participant should know what principles and technical aspects they need to accomplish, and spoon feeding should not be required. The relaxed atmosphere is conducive to learning regardless of seniority, and a certificate of attendance is provided at the end of the week.

How much does it cost?
The course fee in the year I attended was £900 although that has risen slightly since. Registration and payment can be made online at Because of the relatively high demand, early booking is advised.

Was it worth it?
At a time when study budgets are almost non-existent and study leave is difficult to organize and get approved, the correct choice of course is ever more critical. I feel that the north east flap course has met my learning objectives and I certainly feel more au fait with harvesting and using flaps.

Do you have any tips for the course that would be useful for others attending?

  • Read the course manual
  • Aim to have a good grasp of anatomy
  • Aim to get to the university early as the layout is somewhat haphazard, and most of the people who had not previously been affiliated with the university / hospital probably got lost at some point
  • Try to book city centre hotels as early as possible to get competitive prices. The course organisers are aiming to tackle this with two different fees from next year: one to include block booking a single hotel and the other for those who want to book their own accommodation.
  • Matt Erdmann

    More Feedback from Previous Years Flap Course

  • All trainee lectures were very good- special thanks to them
  • All other demonstrators very good and very keen
  • Excellent course
  • Great dissecting opportunities
  • Great day thanks
  • Title talks easy to know upfront
  • Out of 8-10 flaps best to know what 4 (around) you best can study because you can not study the whole book upfront
  • Excellent both theory and practical
  • Excellent overall thank you
  • Great dissection opportunity for today
  • Enjoyed the more structured lectures on Monday
  • A video prior to dissection of the main flaps would make dissection easier to perform / follow
  • Plenty of time to cover the flaps we wanted to cover
  • Lunch was great !
  • Nice that there is enough time for dissection
  • Another great day, very busy and lots of flaps raised but plenty time for dissection and discussion thanks
  • I want to stay at least till 20:00 in the theatre
  • Fab supervision and assistance with delivering anatomy and dissecting flaps
  • Great bacon sandwich
  • Love the day enthusiastic faculties consultants during dissecting
  • Also best evening ( Six restaurant ) lovely location for dinner
  • A very great day
  • Excellent faculty
  • Plenty of time to dissect more complex flaps
  • Very good presentations with helpful practical surgical tips
  • Very good day overall
  • Christy local flap talk was very good
  • Great presentations
  • Very productive dissecting day
  • Great exposure to flaps not come across very often
  • Nice location for dinner and great food
  • Mr Chou is an excellent organiser, I would like him as my wedding planner
  • The lectures were great with all the cases presented.
  • I would highly recommend this course, excellent
  • Everything was very well organised
  • I could do everything I wanted to do
  • But someday I can’t and I would like to stay longer to till 6pm
  • Christy was the best!
  • Justin was great
  • Atmosphere was fantastic
  • Nice faculty
  • Thoroughly enjoyed the course
  • Mr Ragbir talk and 2 trainee presenting MSAP and free fibular was very well done , the video was very beneficial and make dissection much easier
  • Mr Osmani was very helpful with step by step dissection on cavaders
  • excellent introduction into flap surgery, hope to attend as full delegate in 2 yrs
  • overall excellent course with a good lecture to dissection ratio
  • Very good resources and equipment
  • All lectures interactive and interesting in particular Mr O’Donoughue
  • Well organised
  • Great thanks to the organisers of the course
  • May be music at the operating room, the course is well organised
  • Balance between the social events and education aspect is ideal and Christie should be the president
  • In general, I believe the course was outstanding, the faculties were great, the cadavers were in very good condition and material was appropriate
  • what turn the course special and of highest quality is the faculty that are extremely experienced and knowledgeable .additionally they were always available and willing to help, very good mood and proportion a real friendly atmosphere to the course. Mr Chou has an absolutely fantastic attitude towards the delegates
  • Prof Sorenson is absolutely outstanding both in and out of the course
  • Other outstanding members of faculty – Mani Ragbir, Joseph Martin, Jo O’Donoghue, Haroon Siddiqui. Please Make breakfast every day
  • Another great day
  • Please continue that way
  • Excellent organisation of the course day time and evening, all lectures excellent
  • I like the format of lectures and dissection
  • I am very pleased with the course overall, the organisation and the planning of the course is excellent- thank you Mr Chou
  • Before the starting of dissection section each day-would it be possible to have a hands on demonstration of the main flaps- tips and hint and the most important landmark? I think that would improve the understanding further to be given a demonstration of landmarks on one of cadaver
  • If its possible , I’d like to see demonstration performed by teacher how to design and how to harvest the flaps
  • An excellent week, there was enough time to dl all the dissection we needed to but it was not rushed, whole course really well organised and thanks so much Christy-everyone was made to feel welcomed and included in the group
  • Outstanding tutors – Justin Chatterjee, Matt Erdmann, Richard Chalmers, Mr Ragbir, Prof Sorenson, Mr Bashir the social events were a great opportunity to meet the other course attendees THANK YOU
  • Excellent qualities of the talks, some of the markings in the handout could include actually landmarks and markings for skin incisions, great resources. Plenty of time to do the flaps, didn’t feel pressured or out of time like that we can take breaks as needed but not always tea/coffee available. excellent specimen quality, some instruments need replacing, Lab staff were very helpful
  • Prof Sorenson, Matt Erdmann, Justin Chatterjee, Richard Chalmers and Mani Ragbir were very supportive and knowledgeable . Christy is a credit to the course -fantastic organisation, very friendly and helpful and he goes above beyond to make delegates trip and visit brilliant social event
  • First of all, Christy THANK you so much for your hospitality, openness, perfect organisation, even with the cars/taxis to and back NSTC /Hotel. You took great care of us and I feel so welcomed!! Most of the talks were helpful for the dissection, what I missed was the highlighted flaps when preparing for the course, I didn’t know where to focus on. Overall the course has a perfect combination of getting to know each other on Monday, free time on tue night, lovely dinner and view on Wednesday. The cadavers and Lab preparators were great although our lighting could be better. Perfect that you got us a data stick with all the presentations, THANKS again ,I have learned a lot and had a great time