Immersion Medical's simulator delivers improved training and reduced pain during invasive exams

San Jose 14 July 2003For the first time, a new study presented at this year's Digestive Disease Week conference in Orlando, Florida, finds that patients experience less pain during certain invasive exams when performed by residents who first trained on an Immersion Medical endoscopy simulator, rather than solely on live patients.


Immersion Medical, a wholly owned subsidiary of Immersion Corporation, has reported the results of this independent study, conducted by Robert E. Sedlack, MD and Joseph C. Kolars, MD, Department of Gastro-enterology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. Haptics, also known as the science of touch or force feedback, enables training simulators to reproduce the tactile sensations of scope resistance and tissue stretching, adding realism to simulated medical procedures in teaching hospitals.

"Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and early detection saves lives. Unfortunately, many at-risk individuals delay screening due to the anxiety and discomfort associated with the procedure", stated Richard Stacey, Vice President and General Manager of Immersion Medical. "With less discomfort, patients may be more likely to come in for screening on a regular basis. As this study shows, our medical simulators effectively train doctors before they examine patients, resulting in safer, more comfortable exams."

Thirty-eight internal medicine residents were randomly divided into two groups. The first group received three hours of flexible sigmoidoscopy training on an Immersion endoscopy simulator one week prior to patient-based training. The second group skipped the three-hour simulated training and only received patient-based training on live patients.

After the procedure, every patient completed a questionnaire and rated the pain they experienced during the endoscopy. The residents' scores were also compared to the scores of experienced staff endoscopists. Results confirmed that a patient's discomfort during a flexible sigmoidoscopy is significantly lower in cases where the doctor has been trained first on an Immersion medical simulator.

During flexible sigmoidoscopy, an endoscope illuminates the colon and is manipulated carefully to inspect the patient's mucosa. Physicians conduct sigmoidoscopies to find the cause of ailments such as abdominal pain and early signs of cancer in the left side of the colon and rectum. If a polyp or inflamed tissue is found, the physician can remove a piece of it using instruments inserted into the scope. Immersion Medical simulators help train, maintain and measure the medical skills of doctors, giving them the proficiency to perform otherwise painful and difficult procedures.

Immersion Medical designs, manufactures and markets computer-based medical simulation systems worldwide. The systems integrate proprietary computer software and tactile feedback robotics with new economical, high-powered computers to create highly realistic simulations. The company's three key product lines are the CathSim Vascular Access Simulator, the AccuTouch Endoscopy Simulator and the AccuTouch Endovascular Simulator. More company news is to be found in this VMW issue's article Immersion's Virtual Patient software teaches medical and health science students physical exam skills.

Leslie Versweyveld

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