Truman Medical Centers' (TMC) Surgical Skills Lab introduces the metro area’s first arthroscopic virtual surgery simulator for the training and development of future orthopaedic surgeons.
“The VirtaMed ArthroS system truly takes training and skills development for orthopaedic surgeons from using blocks of wood, PVC pipe and hard rubber dummies to a system that uses actual surgical tools with a virtual set-up that is as close to actually operating on a real human as possible,” said James Bogener, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon and TMC Orthopaedic Surgery Skills Lab Manager. “There are fewer than 50 virtual simulator training systems like this across the globe, this puts TMC, the UMKC School of Medicine and the Kansas City area in an elite class for surgery training.”
The VirtaMed ArthroS system uses adapted original surgical instruments that look, feel and work identical to operating room equipment. This gives surgeons in training the ability to be completely comfortable with all aspects of arthroscopic surgery instruments before they ever operate on a human patient. The knee and shoulder models are realistic rubber with anatomical construction that gives users the real-world feel of entering the internal shoulder or knee areas, including the ability to flex and bend joints as done is real surgery. Users view a larger screen, similar to a real operating room scenario, with high fidelity, 3D imagery that is so real and lifelike it can make seasoned surgeons think they are looking at a live human surgery. Images can show unlimited patient situations, anatomies, scenarios including bleeding, suction, and fluid.
Preprogrammed, structured curriculum allows the trainee to use the system 24/7 and receive immediate feedback that can be evaluated by their instructors. The skills requirements or procedures to be accomplished can be customized to meet the individual needs of trainees or seasoned surgeons who need additional development or practice with a difficult impending procedure. Overall, a trainee who completes the virtual coursework and skills will have the equivalent of dozens of real-world like surgeries before ever touching a human patient for the first time.
“These training methods we have used for decades are effective and they have been used in top medical training facilities.” Dr. Bogener added. “However, this virtual system we have in our lab today is, hands-down, a game changer, not just for the development of future surgeons, but for the overall quality of care and safety of patients.”
The standard method to train an orthopaedic surgeon is apprentice based. A surgery resident will observe and assist in dozens of surgeries before performing one on a patient themselves. It is a subjective system based on many years of observational experience by physicians, nurses and surgical staff that allow them to make the decision when a resident physician is ready to take the lead and operate on a human patient. The system has worked well for generations of surgery training. In many skills labs those training to use arthroscopic tools will practice with scopes inserted into cavities cut into hard rubber surgical dummies and will use blocks of wood with bolts through them to simulator the ability to suture through the small incisions. Often PVC pipe is used to simulate bone or joints. Residents have timed activities in which their trainer has to be present to document their progress.
“The VirtaMed ArthrosS trainer doesn’t replace these activities,” says Dr. Bogener, “it augments them and gives us the most advanced tools possible to ensure our residents are safe in the operating room while treating patients, enhancing patient safety and resident training at the same time.”