Simulated colonoscopy training likely to stimulate early detection of colorectal cancer

San Jose 12 June 2001Growing awareness of colorectal cancer, combined with the ageing United States population, has dramatically increased the demand for doctors trained to perform colonoscopies. Early detection saves lives, but many at-risk individuals delay the screening due to the anxiety associated with the procedure. Immersion Medical, a wholly owned subsidiary of Immersion Corp., has now introduced a colonoscopy training module for its AccuTouch Endoscopy Simulator, which mimics the look, sound, and feel of performing minimally invasive procedures. The computer simulation allows physicians to practise extensively before they come into contact with patients, helping ensure that colonoscopies can be performed more accurately with minimal patient discomfort.


"Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, but early detection can prevent many of those deaths", explained Greg Merril, the founder of Immersion Medical. "Everyone over age 50, at minimum, should have a colonoscopy, and I believe that medical simulators are the best tool to ensure physicians are properly trained and that these procedures are safe, comfortable, and also available to as many people as possible. With less discomfort, patients may be more likely to come in for screening on a regular basis."

"This system is so superior that no other available training tool is even close to being considered a comparable device. It not only lets residents and students practise their psychomotor skills, but helps them understand the anatomy needed to perfect these procedures, without subjecting patients to the steep learning curves", stated Dr. Adam Levine MD, of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "With better preparation, the clinicians in training are able to provide safer and more efficient care to the patients while potentially reducing expensive Operation Room time."

Currently, the most common way physicians gain experience in performing colonoscopies is by doing procedures on actual patients. The AccuTouch Endoscopy system allows doctors to perform as many simulated procedures as deemed necessary outside of the operating room. The novel system is expected to help physicians acquire, maintain, and measure skills necessary to perform colonoscopies. Immersion Medical also expects the new system will reduce the workload of training personnel.

During a colonoscopy, a doctor's attention is focused on a camera view of the colon, the feel of scope movement, as well as the reactions of the patient. In Immersion Medical's simulation, doctors view a realistic three-dimensional model of the colon which visibly reacts to scope movement. A realistic feel of performing the procedure is provided by Immersion TouchSense technology, which reproduces the tactile sensations of scope resistance, tissue stretching and difficult colon loop navigation. Each computerised patient audibly responds to certain physician's actions by expressing discomfort or pain. At the end of the simulation, the system generates a very detailed performance evaluation for review by users and supervisors.

In addition to the colonoscopy module, the AccuTouch Endoscopy system runs simulations for flexible sigmoidoscopy, which is also used for colorectal cancer screening, and flexible bronchoscopy, which is applied to diagnose a variety of lung diseases. Immersion Medical equally produces simulations for a variety of vascular access and endovascular procedures. Approximately five hundred Immersion Medical simulators are already installed in hospitals, universities, and medical schools worldwide. Read more news on Immersion Medical in the VMW June 2001 article Newest Immersion simulation module helps nurses train procedures for administering intravenous medication.

Leslie Versweyveld

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