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Homemade ultrasound phantom for teaching identification of superficial soft tissue abscess
  1. Mark D Lo,
  2. S Heath Ackley,
  3. Patrick Solari
  1. Department of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, Washington, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mark D Lo, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Seattle Children's Hospital, 4800 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle M/S B-5520, Washington, USA; mark.lo{at}


Background Point-of-care ultrasonography (POCUS) is often used to distinguish abscess from cellulitis in superficial soft tissue infections. With the increased use of POCUS in emergency medicine, it is important that training to use POCUS is enhanced by practice using phantom models.

Objective To create an easily made, inexpensive, homemade phantom capable of simulating an abscess in superficial soft tissue infection.

Methods Increasing amounts of Jell-O (Northfield, Illinois, USA) brand gelatin and sugar-free Metamucil (Cincinnati, Ohio, USA) brand psyllium hydrophilic mucilloid fibre were experimented with until a satisfactory model was achieved. Various liquids were injected into it to simulate superficial abscess formation. The desired goal was for the phantom to appear similar to superficial human soft tissue under ultrasound scan and to be firm enough to withstand pressure from an ultrasound probe scan. The goal for the simulated abscess was to appear as a hypoechoic space under ultrasound scan. A Sonosite M-Turbo (Bothell, Washington, USA) bedside ultrasound machine with linear array transducer probe was used for the ultrasound scans.

Results The optimal homemade phantom incorporated 12 tablespoons of Jell-O and four tablespoons of Metamucil in one liter of water.

Conclusion An easily made, inexpensive phantom model for instruction on identification of superficial skin abscess was achieved.

  • Bedside ultrasound
  • abscess
  • phantom
  • SSTI
  • training
  • paediatrics
  • paediatric emergency medicine

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.