Update: An earlier version of this post used images from an earlier prototype and incorrectly stated the partnering company in the project.
There are quite a few laparoscopic surgery simulators out there, but curiously, open surgery is still completely learned by practicing on live subjects (whether it be patients or animals). Simquest (Silver Spring, Maryland) is changing that by releasing the first open-incision surgical sim. The company worked with Novint (Albuquerque, New Mexico) to bring haptics to the simulator, providing force feedback simulation in addition to 3D graphics. Because of the larger surgical field and the number of possible actions for open surgery this simulator was significantly more difficult to develop than laparoscopic simulators.
From the press release:
SimQuest developed three important elements of the open-incision surgical simulation platform with funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Technology Program (NIST ATP) including simulation that allows for physically precise real-time behavior of tissue; the Open Surgery Haptic Device, a seven degree-of-freedom (7DOF) haptics interface; and a tool chain similar to those used in computer games, which enables surgical simulation training case scenarios and other content to be created by teachers and trainers.
The NIST program enabled SimQuest to produce unique technology that will enable real-time immersive virtual reality simulation of open surgical procedures to become a cost-effective reality for both training and surgical rehearsal. These technologies will have a dramatic impact upon future generations of healthcare practitioners by increasing patient safety; reducing reliance on live tissue training (human and animal); and enhancing the efficiency, effectiveness, and objectivity of training.
"SimQuest’s open surgical simulation platform will provide realistic force and torque feedback to students’ hands as they manipulate the surgical tools and materials, and will supply physically correct responses to both right and wrong actions," said Dwight Meglan, PhD, SimQuest’s Chief Technology Officer. "This will enable students to learn from their mistakes and gain the practice they need to perform well prior to working on real patients, thus minimizing the risk of errors."
"Given the challenges facing surgical training today, which include reduced numbers of training hours, less hands-on practice, and the demand for objective proof of proficiency and low risk of errors," stated SimQuest CEO Howard Champion, MD, "the NIST investment has created a capability and potential product that is both timely and of great societal value." This R&D initiative continues with funding from NIH and the Department of Defense.
Press release: SimQuest Develops World’s First Platform for Open Surgical Simulation…
Product page: SurgSim Trainers…