Feature Articles

Self-taught surgery using simulation technology

During my elective term in early 2010 at the Royal Free Hospital, London, I was presented with a fantastic opportunity: to learn how to perform a laparoscopic gastric bypass procedure. The challenge was for myself, a medical student and complete novice in laparoscopic surgery, to use the hospital’s state-of-the-art screen-based simulation technology to become proficient in a specific operation within six weeks in this rapidly advancing area of surgery.

My training was to be undertaken using the Simbionix LAP Mentor (Simbionix, Cleveland, Ohio, USA): an advanced piece of technology made up of a computer with simulation software and accompanying hardware, consisting of ports and instruments. The difference between this and a video game is the presence of haptic feedback; when you hit something or pull it, you feel the corresponding tension, making it a highly realistic representation of surgery…