Testing Minimally Invasive Surgery Skills

Photo: Concentrated looking surgeon

Concentration - new surgical
procedures have to be practised
by the surgeon; © SXC

Recent years have seen the rapid emergence of minimally invasive surgery procedures in operating theatres. Despite its advantages, this relatively recent surgical technique still has drawbacks. One such disadvantage, according to the researcher Magdalena Chmarra , relates to the training of surgeons: it is still, for the most part, delivered in a rather unstructured manner and without an objective benchmark with which to measure the progress made by trainee surgeons.

There are currently two safe training methods for minimally invasive surgery, says the scientist. The first is the so-called box trainer, an enclosed rectangular box in which trainee surgeons can practise performing basic manipulative tasks with the surgical devices, such as picking up and moving objects. As they do this, they can be assessed by an experienced surgeon. This is a somewhat subjective process.

The other option is the virtual reality trainer, employing computer simulations, which allows for excellent recording and analysis of the surgeon's actions. However, this training method still has the major disadvantage that it lacks realism. For example, users feel no tactile response when performing surgical tasks.

The new training tool is realistic for the surgeon and at the same time records and analyses the motion of the instruments manipulated by the surgeon. This is accomplished with an inexpensive and relatively simple tracking device. The device incorporates three optical computer-mouse sensors which record the movements made by the surgeon in all directions.

The training tool has been tested by medical staff at Leiden University Medical Centre who rate the device highly. It helps to identify the key factors underlying the basic skills required by surgeons, thus paving the way for objective benchmarking of their competence in the field of minimally invasive surgery. By means of motion analysis, Chmarra has therefore succeeded in arranging the basic skills of the participating trainee surgeons into a classification system which ranks them as being either expert, intermediate or beginner.

MEDICA.de; Source: Technische Universiteit Delft