Mimic Technologies Blog

Does Virtual ‘Warm-up’ Improve Surgical Performance?

Researchers at University of Washington Medicine will lead a three-year multicenter study to see whether the practice leads to faster, more effective work — and fewer errors.


Below is an excerpt from the UW Health Sciences News Beat written by Michael McCarthy:

credit: Clare McLean

Dr. Thomas Lendvay demonstrates the virtual reality program surgeons will use to ‘warm up’ before operating.  photo credit: Clare McLean

The study will enroll surgeons operating with robotic surgery systems, through which surgeons manipulate surgical instruments remotely with computer assistance. This assistance gives the surgeon exquisite control over their instruments and allows them to perform complex procedures through dime-sized incisions.

In the study, the surgeons will be randomly assigned to perform operations with and without warm-up. The warm-up will consist of performing a set of tasks in a virtual reality program that will mimic tasks commonly performed during surgery. The surgeons’ performance during the first 15 minutes of each operation with or without a warm-up will then be compared.

The study, which is being funded by a $1.35 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, will be led by Thomas Lendvay, a UW associate professor of urology and a pediatric urologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Timothy Brand, urologic surgeon at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma.

“In athletics, music and other activities in which you are required to perform both complex physical and mental tasks at the same time, performers typically warm-up beforehand. This has been shown to improve performance,” said Lendvay. “We want to see whether a short, standardized, pre-operative warm-up can improve the performance of surgeons as well.”

In a previous study, Lendvay and Brand looked at how a short warm-up in a separate virtual reality computer program affected a surgeon’s ability to perform a variety of tasks with the robotic surgery system, such as suturing and placing small rings on pegs mounted on slowly gyrating pegboards. The researchers found that after the virtual reality warm-up the surgeons were faster, worked more economically and, importantly, made fewer errors while suturing.

Thomas Lendvay looks on as Justin Ahn, a resident at UW Medical Center, practices suturing in the virtual reality program.

“The warm-ups appear to help the surgeon to reach a mental state where actions like suturing don’t require a lot of attention,” Lendvay said. “This means they can spend less time thinking about suturing and more on the decisions they have to make as the operation proceeds.”

If the study finds that the warm-up significantly improves the surgeon’s performance, Lendvay envisions that warm-up could become part of routine pre-operative preparations.

“We are hoping to design a short, standardized warm-up protocol that will improve performance for a wide variety of procedures,” he said.

The study will be conducted in collaboration with a University of Washington team led by Blake Hannaford, professor of electrical engineering and director of the Biorobotics Laboratory, and another UW Medicine urologist, Mathew Sorenson at VA Puget Sound Health Care System, as well as the University of Minnesota, Florida Hospital System’s Nicholson Center and Madigan Army Medical Center.

Click here to learn more about using the dV-Trainer for surgical warm-up or visit MShare, Mimic’s online curriculum sharing portal, to download a Surgical Warm-up curricula for your dV-Trainer.

For more information on robotic surgery simulation training click here to contact a Mimic Representative.



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Researchers Announce New Curriculum Sharing For Surgeons

robotic surgery

MShare provides surgeons a forum on which to collaborate and share robotic simulation training curricula on the dVTrainer, the training hardware for the da Vinci robot, the most extensively used robot in surgery centers.

Novel Technology Released at American College of Surgeons (ACS) Conference

A first of its kind program for surgeons has been developed by Mimic Technologies that will help identify which training programs are working for robotic surgery. The new technology, called MShare, provides a forum for surgeons and hospital administrators, worldwide, to communicate and share curricula that have been validated by new research.  The new system was unveiled at the American College of Surgeons conference on September 30, 2012.

Prior to the introduction of MShare, hospital administrators and surgeons lacked a forum on which to collaborate and/or share simulation training curricula on the dVTrainer, the training hardware for the da Vinci robot, the most extensively used robot in surgery centers.

“We use simulation in all the classes we teach,” says Arnold Advincula, M.D. director of the surgical program at the Nicholson Center for Surgical Advancement. “We will now make our curriculum available on Mimic’s MShare portal in order to help set the standards for surgeons everywhere.”

Mimic Technologies, the simulation company that built the da Vinci simulation platform, is developing MShare, which will allow surgeons to share curricula they have validated, as well as distribute what has been effective for training within their departments or surgical disciplines.  Surgeons will choose and post new training programs from high-demand categories.  MShare also offers a public space for surgeons to journal their experience – notes that can prove valuable for the development of future training programs.

“This new technology is important for the development of surgical training programs across the country,” says Inderbir S. Gill, M.D., M.Ch.,chairman & professor, Catherine and Joseph Aresty Department of Urology, Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Surgeons need a place to share information, to collaborate and to post needed information, especially with such a multifaceted field as robotic surgery.”

Surgeons report the needed categories of specialized training as surgical warm-up, skills retention, privileging and credentialing, and competitions.  Once accepted, surgeons and administrator nationwide will be able to log in, post their curricula, and allow them to be rated by others.  Users will be able to see clearly how and to what degree the training is working.

Jeff Berkley

“We developed this technology because every training institution has good ideas and those good ideas should be shared-learning depends on it,” says Jeff Berkley, Founder and CEO of Mimic Technologies.

“We developed this technology because every training institution has good ideas and those good ideas should be shared-learning depends on it,” says Jeff Berkley, Founder and CEO of Mimic Technologies. “The goal is to enable a collaborative community of educators who will share their experience and promote a greater understanding of surgery simulation training.”

By September 30, 2012, the site will be fully developed, administrators and surgeons will be able to register and begin posting.  MShare will be free to use and will be available for all dVTrainer (da Vinci) users.  Along with content sharing, this online resource will encourage discussion and debate, as top surgeons share what works and what might require a different training approach.

“Surgeons want to be able to collaborate across the country,” says Pier Cristoforo Giulianotti, M.D. and division chief of thoracic and vascular surgery, University of Chicago.  “They want to be able to see what is working in Madison or San Francisco, or in Paris for that matter.”

Mimic Technologies, headquartered in Seattle, was founded in 2001 to provide leadership in robotic surgery simulation and training. Together with leading institutions, Mimic continues to develop next generation learning tools and curricula that aim to advance robotic surgery training and improve patient safety. Mimic’s mission is to set the standard for simulation and training in medical robotics by continuing to provide needed software, and market leading haptic interfaces. Visit Mimic Technologies at www.MimicSimulation.com.

MShare is now available at http://www.mimicsimulation.com/mshare/

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