Some procedures in which a needle is inserted deep into the body, such as epidurals, require the physician to have a steady hand and to know what to feel for. This is not easy to train for, as one needs real patients to really train on properly. Engineers at Penn State have now developed a simulator that can be used to train how to perform epidurals and other complex needle insertions.
The device is able to change the amount of pressure that is required to push it as the needle moves through tissue. This can be used to replicate the different tissues that a needle must pass through on its way toward the target region where the drug is to be injected. During epidurals, for example, the anesthesiologist at some point must feel for a sudden drop in resistance, as needle is passed through the ligamentum flavum, which indicates that tissue has been punctured and the needle is in the epidural space.
“Those of us who teach these procedures find it very difficult to teach the needle, eye and image coordination skills,” said Sanjib Adhikary, associate professor of anesthesiology at Penn State and one of the developers of the new device.
Though tissue models have been around, they’re not as realistic and don’t offer a wide range of possible cases that a simulator can present. They’re also expensive and bulky. The new simulator can mimic what it would be like to work with patients of different weights, those that have hard to spot epidural spaces, and others that present with unusual circumstances.
Via: Penn State…