Last weekend I attended a conference on brain surgery simulation–a fledgling technology with enormous potential. Here is the article I wrote about it.
Doctor Bederson remembered my interest and invited me to a conference he arranged last week on the science and applications of brain surgery simulation.
Simulation is regularly used in other high-risk industries, such as aviation, nuclear power, and the military. Pilots practice taking off and landing in simulators and also handling emergencies. I, for one, am grateful they have done so, every time I step onto a jumbo jet.
Simulation is also a tool in many areas of medicine. Residents practice intubating on mannequins; surgeons learn a running whipstitch on a chicken breast. Cardiothoracic surgeons refine their skills on pig and beef hearts. Residents are better trained and better prepared because they have worked this way, learning and refining basic skills before being turned loose on real patients. Safety is enhanced; outcomes are improved. There are many benefits to practicing a skill in a simulated environment.
Brain surgery simulation, however, has remained elusive, both because of its inherent complexity and because of the exquisite, mushy, wet, softness of the human brain itself. It’s also hard to distinguish critical structures within the brain from each other. For example, the optic and the olfactory nerves are similar, as normal brain and pathological brain can be…
Posted: 11/15/2013 7:33 pm