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UK Receives Grant to Develop Computerized Surgery Training Tools

By Tammy J. Gay

Photo of Dr. Adrian Park, Dr. Lee T. Todd Jr., U.S. Congressman Ernie Fletcher, and Dr. Gerry Moses
(click to enlarge)
Dr. Adrian Park, Dr. Lee T. Todd Jr., U.S. Congressman Ernie Fletcher, and Dr. Gerry Moses

“I'm always proud of the University of Kentucky faculty’s efforts in advancing medicine to serve Kentuckians. I'm even more proud that this grant allows us to expand nationally what our Minimally Invasive Surgery Center has already accomplished here. This grant gives UK the opportunity to extend our expertise in a way that will benefit students, residents and physicians nationwide.”

-- Lee T. Todd Jr., president, University of Kentucky

 

Feb. 11, 2003 (Lexington, Ky.) -- In a few years, medical programs across the country could be using computer tools developed by the University of Kentucky to train surgeons outside the operating room.

U.S. Congressman Ernie Fletcher today announced a $1.14 million grant received from the United States Army to help produce a standardized educational program for minimally invasive surgery (MIS).

The project, Research Engine Minimally Invasive Surgery (REMIS), is funded by the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), a division of the United States Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC).

“I'm always proud to say I'm a Kentuckian because of programs such as the Minimally Invasive Surgery Center at UK,” Fletcher said. “The center receiving this grant is an example of an effort of government and education officials working together to advance research that affects the Commonwealth and beyond.”

UK programmers will provide a library of tools so other centers and colleges can personalize their own simulators for students to practice performing minimally invasive surgical procedures prior to entering the operating room.

“I'm always proud of the University of Kentucky faculty’s efforts in advancing medicine to serve Kentuckians,” said UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. “I'm even more proud that this grant allows us to expand nationally what our Minimally Invasive Surgery Center has already accomplished here. This grant gives UK the opportunity to extend our expertise in a way that will benefit students, residents and physicians nationwide.”

“Minimally invasive surgeries now account for a significant percent of all operations, ranging from gall bladder surgery to heart bypasses,” said Adrian Park, M.D., director of the Minimally Invasive Surgery Center at the UK Chandler Medical Center and Commonwealth Professor of MIS in the Department of Surgery at the UK College of Medicine.

“This grant allows us to help medical schools nationwide answer the challenge of how to train our students, residents and physicians to perform these procedures. Minimally Invasive Surgery has presented us with new challenges such as hand-eye coordination, ergonomics problems, and depth perception that did not exist with open operations.”

UK researchers have been studying advanced techniques of training in minimally invasive surgery at UK, with a particular interest in repetitive motion injuries to surgeons. While developing the tools, UK researchers also will be examining existing procedures and looking at ways to improve ergonomics to decrease the chance of repetitive motion injuries.

Minimally invasive, or “keyhole” surgery, uses a laparoscope, a lighted tube with a magnifying camera, inserted through small incisions.

“At UK, we have instituted an aggressive training program for our residents that includes a state-of-the-art teaching laboratory,” Park said. “The laboratory features skills training stations that reproduce actual operating room conditions, access to a catalogued video library of actual procedures, and updated computer training materials.”

Computer-based training applications can provide the most flexible and inexpensive solutions to training and have been a popular choice of education outside the operating room.

At this time, existing simulation programs have been developed individually by schools across the country; however, they are inflexible, limited in scope and expensive.

The REMIS project will set up a programming library with a set of user tools that will promote good software engineering practices in surgical software development; decrease expensive duplication of efforts nationwide by helping to standardize modules used in surgical solutions; allow clinicians to influence the content of projects directly; and eventually allow for collaboration between research institutions.


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