McLaren Flint Healthcare, a large community hospital affiliated with Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, is using 3D System’s Simbionix ARTHRO Mentor simulator to assess the performance of Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine residents before allowing them to perform surgery. The residency is a 5-year program where the residents perform over 200 different kinds of procedures including thousands of reconstructions of hips, knees, shoulders and other major joints of the body.

“We found that residents beginning the five-year residency program didn’t have the necessary skills to succeed in the operating room as it pertained to arthroscopy,” said Matthew Sardelli, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in Sports Medicine at McLaren Flint. “They didn’t know how to hold the instrumentation nor operate with the arthroscope. Although they had the theoretical knowledge of the anatomy and different surgical approaches, when it came to performing arthroscopy of the shoulder, hip and knee, they lacked a basic comfort level with the instrumentation and spatial orientation to perform these procedures.”

“We were looking for a simulator that would give our residents both the tactile feel of the arthroscope and different surgical instruments as well as a realistic simulation, providing basic surgical and three-dimensional skills, and specific hands-on training in orthopedic procedures,” said Sardelli. "Equally important was a means to measure the residents’ acquirement of those skills before they actually performed them in the operating room."

At first, residents used the ARTHRO Mentor when they wanted to practice different skills and procedures. Now it is integrated into the residency curriculum, so that residents are required to successfully complete different modules each year and their proficiency is assessed by pre-defined benchmarks.

For Sardelli, the benefits and advantages of the ARTHRO Mentor for their Orthopedic Surgery residency program are:

  • Realistic Hardware – the tactile feel of the arthroscope resembles the instrument in real life. It “allows for real-time force feedback so that the residents know where they are inside the knee and shoulder, and whether they are causing articular damage or hitting instrumentation.”
  • Realistic Simulation – “the simulation is very innovative and realistic. It replicates so accurately the real anatomy so that you see exactly how the joints and tissues behave when you move or apply pressure with the arthroscope or implant various surgical instruments such as shavers and biters.” Breaking the procedures into specific tasks allows for practicing every step of the procedure again and again so when you do the procedure in a real-life situation, you can easily remember the steps of the procedure.
  • Educational Content – The library of modules provides different levels of difficulty from basic skills tasks to complex procedures. A variety of anatomies are available from normal to difficult or rare, allowing residents to progress according to their level of proficiency.
  • Metrics in Performance Reports – “What I like about the 3D Systems’ performance reports, is that they allow us to set proficiency levels or benchmarks for those metrics we feel are important for our Orthopedic Surgery Residency curriculum. We expect the residents to achieve these levels in order to proceed to the next step in the program.” In reviewing the performance reports, educators can see the residents’ accuracy as well as their errors, and if they have achieved the required proficiency level and are ready to operate in the OR.
The hospital says the ARTHRO Mentor changed its residency program: now there is a training system that monitors the residents’ progress. The simulator allows for real-time tactile force feedback so the residents know where they are in the knee, hip or shoulder as they learn in a comfortable, convenient and risk-free setting outside the operating room.

“Prior to the ARTHRO Mentor, we were unable to assess whether or not the residents were ready to perform arthroscopy other than in the operating room. Now, we have a very good idea of what they are capable of and I feel much more comfortable allowing them to participate in cases on actual patients, said Dr. Sardelli.”

”Our goal at McLaren, ‘Doing what’s best’, is the backbone of our entire philosophy. It’s what inspires us to keep setting the bar higher and higher. It showcases our unwavering commitment to excellence and compassion for every patient we treat.”

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