The Huffington Post and CBS News recently reported on the NueroTouch Simulator for practicing brain surgeons at Mount Sinai:
“Neurosurgery in the Mount Sinai hospital system covers eight hospitals where 3,290 open neurosurgery procedures are performed each year. Although safety has reached unprecedented levels, brain surgery, he said, entails serious risks and high cost. Training requires a minimum of seven years and extends through life. Even small technical errors can have profound consequences, physically and socioeconomically, for the patient. Malpractice insurance for neurosurgeons is astronomical.
Christopher Broom then spoke of American Airlines’ use of flight simulators, which ranges from computer video-game-like programs to full flight simulators. Pilots train this way from the beginning. It’s cost-effective and allows them to experience a range of situations, from simple malfunctions to all-out catastrophes.
They also stay current with their skills in simulators and cycle back through every nine months for four days of training. “Even being 99-percent perfect is not good enough for us,” Broom explained. “A 1-percent error would be 20 flights per day at American Airlines. The public trust of us lies in the integrity of the crews we train.”
The parallel with brain surgery is obvious. A neurosurgeon must be in top form. A few millimeters in the brain can mean the difference between a patient speaking normally or never speaking again. Were I a patient, I would want my surgeon to have worked through those millimeters in every way possible before he or she cuts into my brain.”
About the NueroTouch from the Mount Sinai website:
“To provide a bit of background, in 2009, the National Research Council of Canada introduced the NeuroTouch, a one-of-a-kind physics-based virtual simulator for cranial micro-neurosurgery training. The development of similar virtual reality simulation devices within the past decade has enabled residents to practice basic surgical procedures in a risk-free environment. These devices have progressively increased in sophistication, playing an increasingly important role in the education and training of new surgeons. In September 2012, The Department of Neurosurgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center became the first in the United States to purchase the NeuroTouch Simulator.
The NeuroTouch provides a surgery-like environment including a stereoscopic 3-D vision of specific canned surgeries and two instruments with adjustable forces: suction and cauterization. This simulator accurately calculates and displays in real-time the deformation of the brain tissues in accordance with the force applied from the suction and cauterization as applied by the operator of the machine. At the end of the “surgery”, the simulator also provides feedback on the surgery, including metrics such as the amount of blood loss, amount of tumor resected, the amount of excessive force used, etc.”
Footage of the NueroTouch in action: