You might have thought that you could skip this year’s Annual Meeting for the American Urological Association, taking place in New Orleans on May 15 – 19, but if you can’t be there, you should at least know about a new release from 3D Systems that will be showcased there. Specifically, they are introducing the very first virtual reality robotic prostatectomy simulation training, complete with reading printed soft tissue models. The training and models were created to assist in the education and planning of robotic surgical procedures.
In the United States alone, predictions for 2015 show that over 220,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Worldwide an estimated one out of every seven men will receive a positive diagnosis at some point during their lives. Those numbers are being impacted by education and awareness programs that have helped convince more men to have the necessary screening, as early detection leads to greatly improved chances for effective treatment and recovery.
According to the National Cancer Institute, Robotic Assisted Radical Prostatectomy (RARP) now makes up 80% of all prospective procedures performed in the United States. This technology is relatively new and offers a minimally invasive option for addressing the disease. As with all medical procedures, those who perform them, must make the leap from studying to practice, and with something as new as RARP, there is a great deal of new training that even experienced surgeons must undertake.
There are a number of precedents for the use of 3D modeling and 3D printed models as part of medical training programs. In addition, use of these tools and technologies also allow surgeons to prepare for individual procedures. They have also been shown to reduce the amount of time during which the patient is undergoing an operation. As such, the robotic prostatectomy training module provides an opportunity to practice the performance of a prostatectomy in the setting of virtual reality, complete with step-by-step procedural guidance. Also included are performance measurement metrics to provide the trainee with feedback on their performance.
“Individualized patient specific soft tissue 3D printing allows surgeons and trainees the opportunity to operate on a model that looks and feels just like their patient’s tumor. This technology has the potential to reinvent the way we teach and train our young surgeons and for experienced surgeons adapting to a new technology such as robotics, it will flatten the learning curve.”
3D Systems Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Ran Bronstein explained his company’s commitment to supporting the healthcare profession:
“The addition of the Mastectomy Module changes the future of robotic urology training. 3D Systems is committed to supporting medical advancements that ultimately affect patient safety by providing innovative products that range from virtual reality training systems to patient specific soft tissue 3D printed models.”
The models are useful not only to those performing the procedure but also to the patient himself. They can be used as a way to help the patient understand this procedure and to become more comfortable with its performance. This is particularly important in these situations because there is such primal fear to be overcome.
These types of developments are closing the gap between the classroom and practice and hold great promise in continuing to improve the outcomes of surgical procedures.
What do you think about 3D Systems initiative in making prostate surgery a less daunting task? Discuss in the 3D Systems Training forum thread on 3DPB.com.