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Cadaver workshop at ADA FDI World Dental Congress helps advance participants’ anesthesia skills

March 21, 2019

By David Burger


San Francisco — Most dentists can remember the cadavers at dental school.

Dr. Alan Budenz remembers, and as a leader of a cadaver workshop at September’s ADA FDI World Dental Congress, he promises a different experience.

“We use lightly embalmed specimens so these are not the heavily embalmed, gray specimens attendees may remember from school,” said the professor in the department of biomedical sciences and vice chair of the department of diagnostic sciences at the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.

He continued: “This is the real thing. These are not models or typodonts. This shows what the tissues — the nerves, blood vessels, muscles — really look like. These dissections are as real as you can get without performing surgery on a live patient.

“And our cadaver specimens are the most compliant patients you'll ever treat.”

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate: The iconic bridge connects San Francisco, the host city of this year’s ADA FDI World Dental Congress, to California's northern counties, with more than 10 million annual visitors. Courtesy of San Francisco Travel.

Drs. Budenz and Mel Hawkins, a Toronto-based dental anesthesiologist, will lead The Cutting Edge: A Human Cadaver Dissection for Local Anesthesia (course code 4202) on Sept. 4 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in San Francisco, offering eight hours of continuing education credit.

The full-day workshop is also different from past cadaver workshops, Dr. Budenz said. “Several years ago, Dr. Hawkins and I were talking and came up with the idea of dissection workshops to advance attendees’ local anesthesia skills. We have done quite a few of these workshops all across North America and have presented them at the ADA annual meetings several times, but our programs have usually been limited to half-day sessions. This year, we will be able to present a full-day program at the ADA FDI meeting so this workshop will be a truly comprehensive review of anatomy for local anesthesia, and a whole lot more.”

With a whole day dedicated to dissection and discussion, the workshop “is a unique opportunity for practitioners to review human head and neck anatomy from a clinical perspective,” Dr. Budenz said. “Our emphasis is on a more thorough understanding of the anatomy in order to more successfully obtain profound local anesthesia, but we will be reviewing the anatomy of the oral and nasal cavities and of the temporomandibular joint as well.”

Dr. Budenz acknowledges that some may get queasy about revisiting cadaver dissection. “We have our course attendees work in pairs, so if one person is a little bit squeamish, they can work more as an observer or assistant to a partner, and we encourage everyone to move around and view each other's dissections so that they get a fuller appreciation of the variability of human anatomy.”

Attendance for the workshop is limited to provide participants with an individualized opportunity to dissect and learn detailed anatomy of the oral cavity and face and specific landmarks of injection sites. The techniques reviewed include Gow-Gates, Vazirani-Akinosi, conventional inferior alveolar and long buccal mandibular nerve blocks, palatine approach for maxillary quadrant anesthesia and infiltration techniques, Dr. Budenz said. Other techniques may be reviewed by request.

Drs. Budenz and Hawkins will lead another hands-on workshop at the ADA FDI World Dental Congress that doesn’t involve cadavers: Location, Location, Location: Local Anesthesia Simulation Hands-on Workshop, offered twice on Sept. 5 (5210 for 9:30 a.m.-noon, and 5211 for 1:30-4 p.m.) This workshop is an opportunity to develop and practice injection techniques with colleagues, Dr. Budenz said. Attendees will work in pairs to identify intraoral landmarks and needle insertion points on each other. No actual injections will be given.

Dr. Roger Macias, general chair of the ADA Advisory Committee on Annual Meetings, said the full-day workshop was added because “cadaver courses are one of the best ways to rediscover the complexity and beauty of the body. It’s amazing to see how everything works together.”

The ADA FDI World Dental Congress will be held Sept. 4-8 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Register at