Surgery Simulators Effective at Training Surgeons

NewYork-Presbyterian Study Results to Be Presented at American Surgical Association's Annual Meeting

Apr 18, 2006


Training surgeons with computer-based "surgery simulators" may create better surgeons and safer surgeries, according to a new study by NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. The study found that surgical residents trained with the device a mannequin-like model with a lifelike interactive anatomy scored uniformly higher than their peers in performing an interventional technique to repair blockages in the legs.

The presentation is scheduled for presentation on Thursday, April 20, 9:35 a.m., at the 126th annual meeting of the American Surgical Association in Boston.

The double-blinded study also found that residents trained on simulators performed the procedures faster and more accurately and their use of a fluoroscope (similar to an X-ray) was more limited.

"We have really come a long way from the 'see one, do one, teach one' days of surgery," says Dr. K. Craig Kent, the study's principal investigator. "With simulators, surgeons in training can become very good at a particular technique before actually laying hands on a real patient."

Dr. Kent is chief of vascular surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and professor of surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons.

When trained with the simulator, residents practice the procedure on the "virtual patient" which lies on an operating table. Just like in a real operating room, the surgeon, surrounded by working monitors, pierces the simulator's "skin" with a needle, inserts a catheter into an "artery," snakes it to the indicated area and executes a repair. Just like with a real patient, what is happening inside the simulator is watched on a monitor except that sensors, and not a fluoroscope, provide the images.

The study followed 20 residents of equal ability, divided into two groups one trained on the stimulator and the other not. Following training, the participating resident performed two consecutive procedures on actual patients. The surgeries were mentored by attending surgeons who were also grading each resident's performance.

In general, simulators are used to teach interventional techniques those in which a catheter is slid into an artery to repair a blockage or weak spot. The number of interventional cases has nearly doubled since 1999 and this trend is expected to continue because minimally invasive procedures, when possible, are much easier on the patient than traditional surgeries.

The study's co-investigators include Drs. Rabih Chaer, Brian DeRubertis, Stephanie Lin, Harry Bush, John Karwowski, Daniel Birk, Nicholas Morrissey, Peter Faries and James McKinsey all of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

The surgical simulator studied is the Procedicus VIST™ Vascular Intervention System Trainer, manufactured by Mentice, a company based in Sweden.

About the 126th Annual Meeting

The 126th Annual Meeting of the American Surgical Association is April 20-22 at the Westin Copley Place in Boston.

About the American Surgical Association

The American Surgical Association was founded in 1880 and is the nation's oldest and most prestigious surgical organization. Its members include the nation's most prominent surgeons from the country's leading academic medical institutions, many of whom are chairs of the Departments of Surgery at these institutions. Membership also includes leading surgeons from around the world, making it much more than an American association.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital based in New York City is the nation's largest not-for-profit, non-sectarian hospital, with 2,344 beds. It provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine at five major centers: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Allen Pavilion and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division. One of the largest and most comprehensive health-care institutions in the world, the Hospital is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education and community service. It ranks among the top 10 in U.S.News & World Report's guide to "America's Best Hospitals," has the greatest number of physicians listed in New York magazine's "Best Doctors" issue, and is included among Solucient's top 15 major teaching hospitals. The Hospital has academic affiliations with two of the nation's leading medical colleges: Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System which includes acute-care and community hospitals, long-term care facilities, ambulatory sites and specialty institutes is committed to providing high-quality, cost-effective and conveniently accessible care to communities throughout the tri-state metropolitan region. The System serves one in four patients in the New York metropolitan area.

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