Saturday, May 30, 2009

Simulation Can Improve Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery

We have always believed in employing simulation as a way to improve skills. The United States Space program has used simulation as an integral part of space mission planning for many years. And recent studies demonstrate the usefulness of simulation in training doctors -- including doctors that perform laparoscopic surgery.

A recent study at Yale University demonstrated how simulation can be useful in training doctors. Using simulation, student doctors were trained to successfully insert a “central line” or catheter into a major vein of the body. So employing simulation to train doctors can be a smart thing to do. Moreover, in the opinion of some experts, not using simulation to aid in training doctors is a mistake.

England's chief medical officer recently stated that because doctors don’t have enough simulators on which to practice, patients are subjected to harm. Airlines use simulators to train their pilots. And because of their regular training on simulators, pilots are better trained to fly planes than surgeons are to perform surgery.

Simulation may be even more important in laparoscopic surgical training, since laparoscopic surgery requires a higher level of skill than open surgery. And laparoscopic bariatric surgery, performed by a skilled surgeon, generally produces less trauma for the patient. As reported in a Health Grades study, for those bariatric surgeries requiring hospital stay, the patient receiving laparoscopic surgery spends less time in the hospital than the patient receiving open surgery. Further, the complication rate for laparoscopic bariatric surgery is less than the complication rate for open bariatric surgery.

A recent study has shown that simulation can help a doctor acquire the necessary skills to gain laparoscopic surgical proficiency. Therefore, more medical device providers might want to consider building and making cost-effective simulators for laparoscopic surgical practice. The provider that creates the most useful, economical simulators for practicing laparoscopic bariatric surgical procedures will likely gain a competitive advantage.

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