Surgical chip and pin

A computerised simulator currently being tested in hospitals in France will allow surgeons to sharpen their skills without having to do so on patients during real operations.

Developed by an interdisciplinary team of experts through a Kaleidoscope project called Technology Enhanced Learning for Orthopaedic Surgery (TELEOS), the simulator blurs the boundaries between theory and practice.

TELEOS enables trainees to place a pin in a patient’s pelvis to rectify problems caused by disease or breakage by using a computer mouse. By manipulating the pin with the mouse on a computer screen, it can be placed, oriented and pushed in the body, exactly simulating the way the surgeon acts in the operating room.

The TELEOS project team comprises surgeons, computer and education scientists, clinical tutors and psychologists.

Normally, for trained and trainee surgeons, experience would have to be gathered in an operating theatre with a real patient, under the supervision of an experienced surgeon. Trials with TELEOS have shown that a trainee who has experience practising techniques with the simulator can expect less intervention when coming to grips with real life situations in the operating theatre.

Currently, the TELEOS learning environment is being intensively tested to prove its added educational value. After this testing period, it is planned to be introduced in hospitals in Grenoble, France at the end of this year. The project team is confident that the benefits of the system will be recognised by the surgeons and trainee surgeons who will use it.

Lucile Vadcard, a team member from Modèles et Technologies pour l’Apprentissage Humain (MeTAH), Grenoble,France said, ‘The more people able to see the benefit of TELEOS, the better. We will keep our ears to the ground in terms of what is going on in research in education technology, so we can stay ahead. Kaleidoscope, the European Network of Excellence for Technology Enhanced Learning, will help us to do this.’