New Training Method for Medical Students

Professor Justin Cobb, Head of the Biosurgery and Surgical Technology Group at Imperial College London, conducted the trial on 32 undergraduate medical students from December 2006 to December 2007. The pilot study tested whether planning before an operation, combined with the latest robotic navigation equipment could increase the success rates of students practising hip resurfacing arthroplasty procedures – a method for correcting painful hip bone deformities by coating the femoral head with a cast of chrome alloy.

Third year medical undergraduates were asked to trial a state-of-the-art robot called the Navigation Wayfinder - a new navigation tool. The Wayfinder is similar to a GPS tracking system. It helps the user to navigate during surgery by plotting correct surgical incisions. It also calculates the correct angles for inserting chrome alloy parts needed to repair hip bones.

It has twin digital arms protruding from a console. One senses the movement of surgical tools as they slice through a patient’s hip area. The other takes detailed images of the bones. This information is fed into software which generates a virtual model of a patient’s hip as it is being operated on. Similar to a 3D roadmap, it allows the user to plot the progress of an operation as they are performing it – a vital technique for ensuring that it is being carried out correctly.

Cobb compared how undergraduates performed with each different method. He found that they were three times more accurate and precise using the Wayfinder than if they used the two other conventional methods. Clinical trials using the Wayfinder are currently being carried out at Warwick Hospital, Bath Hospital, Truro Hospital and the London Clinic.

MEDICA.de; Source: Imperial College London