University Of Texas Southwestern One-Of-A-Kind Video-Laparoscopic Lab May Change The Way Surgery Is Taught

DALLAS -- September 23, 1998 -- Darren Pollock, a third-year surgery resident, frowns with concentration as he tries to keep his eyes on the video screen and off his hands while suturing a foam sponge; finally, all of those youthful hours spent clutching the Nintendo joystick are paying off.

UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas is making a revolutionary change in its surgery-education technical-skills curriculum with the introduction of a unique video-laparoscopic training program. In a scenario akin to pilot training on flight simulators, surgery residents and third- and fourth-year medical students are undergoing intense laparoscopic- and basic-surgery skills training on an inanimate model. The technology used in the lab was donated by Storz Endoscopy and is valued at $250,000.

"I've improved in these skills since my pre-test," Pollock said. "I'm certainly faster, I've cut my time in half."

In this new teaching lab, residents learn video eye-hand skills and acquire basic skills such as suturing, knot tying and forcep handling in a virtual, "patientless" setting.

"This teaching model allows the students and residents to gain knowledge and confidence prior to performing procedures on patients," said Dr. William Thompson, assistant professor of surgery. "And that of course is far better for both the patients and residents. We're emphasizing that they spend time practicing as much as they can for increased confidence."

At the six video-skills stations, participants have access to three devices. The movable, wand-like laparoscopic camera rests in the center guarded by endoshears and endostitch forceps on either side. Each of the six stations offers programs for developing different skills: "The Cobra Rope Drill," for example, develops agility with filamentous objects. Technical-skills rooms nearby provide adjunct training support. The rooms contain mock setups that help finesse difficult-to-master skills such as forcep manipulation and knot cons

Contact: Jennifer Haigh
(214) 648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center

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