Luxemburg 10. April 2020

Lifelike surgical training on artificial patients

DTMD University: Practicing surgical techniques on "pig preparations" or other animals is no longer up-to-date

Example for simulator based surgery training. (Source: HTWK/Wunderwelt Pictures)

Example for simulator based surgery training. (Source: HTWK/Wunderwelt Pictures)

One of the main advantages of digitization, as the DTMD University for Digital Technologies in Medicine and Dentistry is committed to, is that teaching and learning is more independent of time and space. In addition, digitization and virtualization offer many technological innovations that can depict lifelike quasi-real worlds. For example, renowned surgical trainers around the world use modern computer technology and real-time simulations with video recordings from real operations and haptic perception.

Prof. Dr. Ralf Rössler, Dean of DTMD University with extensive real-life surgical experience, comments: "Thanks to new digital technologies, DTMD University can carry out lifelike surgical training on artificial patients. The surgeon feels exactly like in the real operating theatre when he hits tissue with the instruments, cuts it, pulls or pushes it with forceps. The simulation program converts the sense of touch and presents corresponding images on the screen from a huge video database. Rössler continues: "In Germany we unfortunately still live in the past in this respect." As before, surgery training on animal preparations could be observed in the majority of cases. In human medicine, this is also partly done on living, narcotised animals. Due to anatomical differences between animals and humans, however, surgical training on animals is rather unsuitable for human surgeons, in some cases even dangerous. In many cases, this would convey a false, supposed security to the course participants.

State-of-the-art technology makes it possible

Together with the Austrian medical technology company W&H Dentalwerk Bürmoos GmbH, DTMD University is conducting research into simulation models for dentistry, which represent jaws that are anatomically exactly reproduced from artificial tissue, blood and bone. This enables DTMD University students and their lecturers to train operations under realistic conditions, but without risk to a real patient. A further research partner is Prof. Werner Korb - according to his own statements, one of the first and only professors worldwide for "Simulation and Ergonomics in Surgical Medicine". DTMD University and Korb are currently working together in the project "Sebastian - Sensor Based Surgery Training - Integrated System and Analytics". Korb emphasizes: "For pilots, training in simulators has long been state of the art to make flying as safe as possible. The complexity of the aircraft cockpit and modern operating theater is comparable, as is the responsibility that is assumed for the lives of others. We are therefore convinced that both digital concepts and simulator-based training will also become common practice in dental surgery in order to increase patient safety in the long term".

Virtual OP-Training

Practice makes perfect. This is true for all physicians working in surgery. It is of great advantage for all those involved not to practice directly on the living patient. For this reason, DTMD University considers it essential to integrate virtual IT-controlled simulation solutions into its training programmes.

Digital observation can combine real OPs with online training

Digital observation can combine real OPs with online training

The simulations have many advantages: they are close to reality and can be easily standardized. Furthermore, they can be carried out without hygienic or other local requirements. For the students of DTMD University, this means that they can also carry out these trainings at home or in practice. All this is done in close contact and discussion with the supervising lecturer.

Special OP trainings

Experts are certain that the use of simulation technologies will increase in the future. At DTMD University, this is already a reality.

In the future, the simulator will be used at DTMD University as part of a new "robotic surgery" curriculum for the in-service training of dentists in private practice or assistant doctors in the surgical disciplines. The range of applications extends from simple extractions to highly specialized prodontal surgical or augmentative surgical techniques, for example in implantology. Prof. Rössler emphasizes this. "We consider these special courses to be eminently important. Recent studies have shown that regular "simulator training", like a kind of warm-up training, can sustainably optimize the surgical skills of a surgeon on the patient".