The objective of this course is to offer a step-wise learning process starting with 2D illustrations, followed by a progressive introduction to the third dimension, to finally achieving a virtual dissection of the temporal bone.

Before drilling the temporal bone to expose the middle ear structures, an excellent understanding of the locations and spatial relationships of key anatomical structures is needed.

Thorough knowledge of the procedure is important, along with an understanding of basic concepts in temporal bone surgery. Illustrations, photos and videos can be used as initial learning tools. The course additionally includes two optional units–  a simulated spatial view of the operating space and knowledge transfer to a physical medium, through the dissection of artificial temporal bones.

The course consists of the following units:

  • Anatomical and Surgical Guide for Transmastoid Approach
  • User Guide for the University of Melbourne Virtual Reality Temporal Bone Surgery Simulator
  • PHACON artificial temporal bone simulation

Online learning will be included for all three units, however the two simulation units will have additional content related to how to perform the simulation exercises.

Designed For

Suitable for people exposed to ear surgery such as surgeons, trainees, nurses, medical students, engineers, audiologists, clinical representatives and other interested parties.

Learning Outcomes

The course provides theoretical knowledge, instructional videos and integrates two simulator training programs on how to perform temporal bone dissection. After completing the course, the student will be able to:

  1. Understand the basic surgical anatomy of the temporal bone
  2. Identify the landmarks and relationships between key anatomical structures in the space that guides a surgeon in performing temporal bone surgery
  3. Learn to drill and expose the middle ear structures through a step-by-step surgical approach
  4. Learn specific surgical tips to improve surgical dissection and help minimise complications

Course Content

  1. Anatomical and surgical guide for transmastoid approach, including knowledge to guide the student in a step-by-step manner on how to perform a standard operation and understand the surgical anatomy.
  2. Knowledge to understand difficult cases and strategies for success.
  3. Reinforcement through case studies on a range of surgical presentations (8 cases).

Virtual Reality Temporal Bone Surgery Simulator

  1. Knowledge on how to use the simulator and the objectives of the simulator learning.
  2. Reflective logbook on the simulator exercises with teacher feedback.
  3. Student using Temporal Bone Surgery simulator

PHACON Artificial Bones Simulator

  1. Knowledge on how to use the artificial bones and the objectives of artificial bone dissection.
  2. Verification – upload photos of dissection for teacher feedback and evaluation.
  3. Dissection practice in own time and location.

Please note: Bones are not included in the price of the course and will need to be purchased separately. Students will receive a 10% discount when purchasing the bones direct from the supplier using the promo code: ‘melbourneuniversity’. Please click here to purchase.

Equipment and Instruments Guide

  • A temporal bone holder is helpful, but a block of Play Doh or clay is an excellent substitute to hold your temporal bone.
  • A well balanced microscope, so it can be moved with the nose.
  • A few micro-instruments may also be useful, such as a curved needle and bone curette.
  • Suction-irrigation tubes are used for drilling. Irrigation with a continuous flow is recommended.
  • For the drilling, cutting burrs of 5 and 3 mm and diamond burrs of 3, 2 and 1 mm should be sufficient.


The assessment is submission of self-assessments and 8 case studies. A certificate is provided upon satisfactory completion of the course.

Delivery Mode

Completion of all 3 units is up to 20 hours of elearning.

  • Online anatomical learning (10-15 hours of learning). Course materials can be accessed using a web browser.
  • Virtual reality temporal bone surgery simulation - booking required at department of Otolaryngology of the University of Melbourne (1-2 hours of learning)
  • PHACON artificial temporal bone simulation. At your own facility OR at the department of Otolaryngology of the University of Melbourne

Course Directors

  • Professor Stephen O’Leary
  • Associate Professor Jean-Marc Gerard

Contact Us

E: mobile-learning@unimelb.edu.au

T: +61 3 8344 5673

Course Information


Course Fee: $440 (GST incl.)