AR kits for trainee surgeons - Main 1

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Accessible by trainee surgeons via a smartphone app, augmented reality technology is used to scan physical models of organs made from hyper-realistic aqua gel

Quick read

➨ The partners, led by education and research organisation National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, have already distributed 160 kits
➨ The kits centre around augmented reality software to help train surgeons on hyper-real 3D-printed models of human organs
➨ The project removes the need for trainees to rely on classroom cadavers to perfect their skills, a resource that has become scarce during the pandemic

The story

A consortium of partners based in Scotland is sending out augmented reality kits to trainee surgeons to overcome a lack of facilities and a reduced ability to travel.

The partners, led by education and research organisation National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), have already distributed 160 kits to the UK and three countries in Africa, with discussions ongoing for other jurisdictions around the world.

The kits centre around augmented reality software to help train surgeons on hyper-real 3D-printed models of human organs. The software guides trainee surgeons as they perform ‘surgery’ on the lifelike models.

Accessible via a smartphone app, augmented reality technology is used to scan physical models of organs made from hyper-realistic aqua gel, designed to mimic the texture of human tissue.

This scan generates a digital representation of the organ, which is displayed on the trainee’s smartphone and provides instructions that feed back when a procedure is successfully completed. Trainees can also film their work for review from experienced surgical trainers.

AR kits for trainee surgeons - Main 2
Organlike produced the models of organs

The consortium behind the kits includes industry-led Organlike, which has produced the models of organs, along with NHS Highland, The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Vivolution, KWWK, 4c Engineering, and Aseptium. It is backed by funding from Innovate UK.

NMIS says the project removes the need for trainees to rely on classroom cadavers to perfect their skills, a resource that has become scarce during the pandemic.

‘Demand for a more flexible approach to surgical training’

Danny McMahon, digital and metrology lead at NMIS, explains: “Our software works along with Organlike’s hyper-real models to provide guidance and training, as well as feedback on performance. While there is no replacement for the real thing, we can help prepare trainees for taking the next step in their training.”

“Although coronavirus restrictions are lifting, we expect there to be an increasing demand for a more flexible approach to surgical training going forward. The application for this technology extends far beyond Scotland and although it’s still relatively early days for the project we are already excited about its potential.”

Professor Will Shu, founder and director of Organlike, adds: “Augmented reality is the perfect complementary technology to accompany our models and this partnership is really exciting. With in person learning limited by restrictions on access to facilities and resources, this technology could help trainee surgeons who can’t currently access facilities to work in their own space. Our hope is that our product will form an important part of future training programmes across the world.”

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Images: National Manufacturing Institute Scotland

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