SIMULATIONS FOR SURGICAL EDUCATION: A CASE STUDY FOR ENDONEUROSURGERY
In general, medical education programs face serious challenges. For instance, a study conducted with medical students about their experiences with, and actual and desired levels of, competence for nine procedural skills show that participants rate themselves as being unable to perform these procedural skills without assistance. What’s more, and there is a variation on the participants’ current competency levels which indicates the need of improving technical competency among graduating students. Since it is important that surgeons acquire the necessary skills to the best prior to their first surgery, this issue becomes even more serious in the case of such surgical education programs. In this respect, DaRosa et al. (2011) have analyzed barriers to effective teaching and listed students’ and faculties attitudes as one of such barriers in implementing new educational approaches in curricula. Besides, endoneurosurgery education is a program having a series of additionally specific challenges. In these kinds of operations, surgeons use a special type of camera, namely an endoscope, to access area to be operated and complete the surgery with the help of other special surgical equipments. In other words, endoneurosurgery consists of neurological operations performed using an endoscope. Unlike traditional surgery operations, natural body cavities are used as entry points, hence inflicting minimum damage to the patient. These operations are considered as minimal invasive surgeries (or MIS), where surgeons see the operation area in two-dimensional view on the monitor and perform the operation based on that view. Virtual Reality simulation, which can simulate real anatomic models, organs, operational tools, and soft body tissues as well as other features within operations are considered as one of the important technologies to enhance and support these educational programs. This educational technology is considered appropriate, especially for the operations considered in MIS. They can create educational alternatives to develop the skills required for surgery operations . There are no particular ethical considerations in these systems, and users can usually access these systems conveniently. Computer systems record all the detail-information about users, their progress and behaviors while they are using the system. Hence, evaluation can be done by analyzing this data, and feedback for the users can be provided concerning their performance. The simulation-based educational technology also provides force-feedback feelings through haptic devices. Similar to the provided anatomical models, the sense of touch and view of the operational field can be considered almost as close to real operational environments. In this study, a simulation environment called ECE that is developed for training purposes of pituitary endoneurosurgery education is presented. The study presents the features of the developed system and discusses the results gained from the experiences of educators through the usage of the ECE system for supporting the traditional training programs. The results of this study aims to improve the potential benefits of such simulation environments for better supporting the surgical education programs.