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Conference goals include better surgery and better surgeons

A two-day conference at the University of Chicago Medical Center is designed to offer surgeons a peek at the profession's future by focusing on new molecular and mechanical solutions to three age-old problems: preventing the breakdown of anastomoses (the surgically created connections between blood vessels), improving tissue healing after surgery and developing new tools to test and sharpen surgical skills.

The conference, "Solving the most challenging surgical problems," will be held Friday and Saturday, Dec. 17 and 18, 2010, at the Medical Center, 5812 S. Ellis Avenue. It brings academic surgeons together with research and development teams from companies that design technology for surgical innovation. It features a live minimally invasive operation and a chance for surgeons to test their talents in simulated surgical settingsthe training ground of the futureusing technology that lets surgeons measure and compare their dexterity, concentration, teamwork and judgment.

"Our goals are to push past current boundaries in thinking and practice through interdisciplinary interaction and reaction," said meeting organizer John Alverdy, MD, professor and vice chair of surgery at the University of Chicago. "New tools allow us to perform major surgical interventions, an inherently invasive procedure, but to leave less and less collateral damage. This conference will look ahead to methods that could someday, perhaps quite soon, eliminate ports and incisions. It will also look at the training tools that can make all of us better at what we do right now."

Conference participants include representatives from the University of Chicago's Bioengineering Institute for Advanced Surgery and Endoscopy (BIASE), Simulation Center, and the Section of General and Minimally Invasive Surgery. Outside speakers include researchers from the International Surgical Innovation Consortium, Universidad Complutense of Madrid Medical School, the Henry Ford Hospital Innovation Institute, New Hope Ventures, and Covidien.

Conference presentations will hosted by BIASE and the University of Chicago Simulation Center, which provides advanced high-fidelity human patient simulators and the access grid tele-collaboration technology to study simulated medical events and scenarios in an immersive environment.

Computers and automation, as well as the ability to simulate surgical settings and evaluate surgical technique, are bringing "a new level of innovation and accountability to the operating room," said Alverdy.

"Before these tools were available, surgeons trained by observing and practicing," he said. "Now we can create a virtual surgical environment. This is a huge advance for training. But it also lets experienced surgeons measure their technical skills. Something as simple as how tightly a surgeon makes a knot, can make a difference in whether blood flows smoothly through newly joined vessels or a kink or leak develops, a potentially life-threatening complication. Now we have the tools to assess those basic skills and to re-educate those who need a boost."

Conference Schedule for Friday, December 17

    8:30 Vision for the meeting, Jeffrey B. Matthews, MD, John C. Alverdy, MD.
    8:45 Taking the risk out of the high-risk anastomosis: thinking beyond technique, Andrea Olivas MD, Surgical Research Fellow.
    9:15 History and future of anastomotic devices, Michael Whitman, CEO, New Hope Ventures.
    10:15 Making innovation matter: industry's perspective, Marisha Godek, PhD, Covidien.
    10:45 Surgical innovation: the Spanish experience, Julio Mayol, MD.
    11:15 Virtual reality, simulation, robotics demonstrations,
    1:00 Biological Scaffolds Joel Collier, PhD.
    1:45 Polymers, biological devices, and heart surgery, Shahab Ahkter, MD.
    2:15 Percutaneous biliary anastomosis. Guiliano Testa, MD.
    3:15 Live Action operation real-time, remote, continuous, multidisciplinary collaboration: the time has come, Jonathan Silverstein, MD, moderator; Vivek Prachand, MD, attending surgeon.

Schedule for Saturday, December 18

    8:30 Cognitive task analysis for robotic intestinal surgery, Konstantin Umanskiy, MD.
    9:30 Agent-based modeling to meet the needs of the surgical innovator. Gary An, MD.
    10:45 Systems design approaches to the infrastructure, Stephen D. Small, MD:
    • Information technology and visualization,
    • networking, simulation for workflow, built environment,
    • simulation to reduce the risks of organizational accidents. and
    • team failures.


Contact: John Easton
University of Chicago Medical Center

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