A collaboration between RPCI’s Surgical Robotic Center and the University at Buffalo (UB)’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has resulted in the world’s first robot-assisted surgical simulator that accurately simulates the daVinci robotic surgical system. An engineering marvel and the most widely used system of its kind in the world, the daVinci robotic surgical system affords all the features that an experienced surgeon needs to ensure equivalent or superior outcomes to conventional surgery.
But such a marvel, like an aircraft, is only as good as the pilot, and the current training required for proficiency is unfortunately less than ideal. “Learning by doing” fails to avoid errors committed during training – and puts the patient’s safety and welfare at risk.
The Robotic Surgical Simulator, or RoSS, addresses the rapidly growing need for a realistic training environment for robot-assisted surgery, a field that is rapidly expanding and which is expected to constitute a majority of all surgeries within the next five to seven years. The RoSS plays a critical, educational role for RPCI, which trains robotic surgical teams from around the world.
“Think of it as a flight simulator for surgeons,” says Thenkurussi (“Kesh”) Kesavadas, PhD, professor of mechanical engineering at UB and co-founder, with Dr. Khurshid Guru, of the spin-off company, Simulated Surgicals. “Until now, surgeons have not had sufficient opportunities outside of the operating room to gain extensive training in robotic techniques,” says Dr. Guru. Instead, he explains, surgeons usually start by “shadowing” a colleague who is more experienced with robotics in the operating room; once they are seen as having developed some proficiency, they start doing robotic surgeries on their own patients.
Experts predict that the RoSS will have a major impact on improving surgical outcomes and the product’s relevance will grow in direct proportion to the acceptance and application of robot-assisted surgery as a best practice. The superior training that the RoSS provides will translate into better quality of life for thousands of patients.
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