WebSET project shows first simulator results

Manchester 19 September 2001At a meeting in Manchester, the WebSET consortium demonstrated the first surgical simulators to a number of surgeons, who will later use the project results to teach surgery procedures to young doctors. One simulator is of a Lumbar Punction, which is widely applicable, and the other one copies a Ventricular Catheterisation procedure used by brain surgeons. The simulators are Virtual Reality environments which can be accessed on any standard PC. This opens the possibility to considerably shorten the time needed to train young doctors to perform new surgery procedures.


Ventricular Catheterisation

The results of the WebSET project will be marketed under the GridSET brand name. A core GridSET training simulator is a complete simulator to train a specific procedure. Currently several medical procedures are being implemented. A complete GridSET training simulator consists of a:

  • Simulator module
  • Procedure module
  • Evaluation Module
  • Conference Module

These four modules work together to create an environment in which a procedure, integrated into a 3D simulator, can be used in a training environment where training results are automatically evaluated in an objective way. Electronic conferencing makes it possible to generate a teacher-pupil setting, a class-room setting, a lecture setting or a work group setting, without the need for the training participants to be close together physically. They are able to access the virtual training environment from anywhere over the Internet.

The combination of these four modules creates a unique environment in which for the very first time complex medical procedures can be trained with realistic 3D simulators on standard PCs with standard Internet connections.

The Lumbar Punction simulator is a Virtual Reality model into which a student can stick a needle. Simple as it sounds, there is a lot that can go wrong. For instance, a nerve can be hit. The simulator also shows a fluid coming out once the spinal cord has been penetrated, exactly as what would happen when this action is performed on a real patient. The VR model contains the nerves, a detailed spine, covering everything. For educational purposes, parts can be removed or made transparant. In this way, the student can see what he is doing.

During an exam, the student can perform the procedure, which is recorded. The evaluation module can then calculate how well the student is doing, using objective parameters defined at the time when the training simulator was created and which have been validated by experienced surgeons.

The other simulator shown was that of a Ventricular Catheterisation, a procedure where a ventricle in the brain has to be reached, without damaging the surrounding brain tissue. The simulator here consists of a complete head (with big staring eyes) and a body which can be positioned by the student. Within the head, bone and brain have been modelled too.

It is expected that these new types of simulators will considerably shorten the time needed to train young doctors and surgeons. More details are available at the WebSET project Web site.

Ad Emmen

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