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Improving Skills With Surgical Simulation

Improving Skills With Surgical Simulation

Requirements for surgical proficiency are generally based on an absolute number of procedures completed, but the pace at which people are trained or become proficient in a procedure tends to be highly individualistic. Skill levels progress at varying speeds. Setting a specific number of procedures for surgical training can lead to surgeons having variable skill levels. As a result, patient safety can be potentially impacted during and after training. Simulation technology has been thought of as a helpful tool to address both patient safety concerns and the varying speeds at which surgical trainees reach proficiency. A Simulator Is Born “When endoscopic sinus surgery was popularized in the 1990s, a number of complications were reported because of the proximity to the eyes and brain,” explains Marvin P. Fried, MD, FACS. “These complications included loss of eye muscle motion, vision, and brain fluid leakage. It was a new surgical technique on which surgeons needed training. Lockheed Martin then created a sinus surgery simulator with the purpose of providing a safe environment that looked and felt like human anatomy.” People who train on the simulator run an endoscope through the nose, and a corresponding image appears on a monitor. Users hold the handle of one of 24 instruments—ranging from needles to forceps—in their other hand. The simulator then measures how long procedures take and whether errors have been made. The technology simulates such things as bleeding when errors are made. Tasks are set to beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Putting Simulation to the Test Previous studies conducted by Dr. Fried and colleagues at Montefiore Medical Center indicated that the simulator looked and...
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