Brain Surgery Virtual Reality Simulator

The Department of Neurosurgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is the first in the United States to use the NeuroTouch virtual-reality simulator designed to improve outcomes and reduce complications in patients undergoing brain surgery. The device uses 3D software coupled with handheld surgical controls providing tactile feedback to closely mimic an actual brain surgery.

The brain surgery simulator was designed by the National Research Council of Canada and is an interactive virtual-reality technology that provides visual, touch, and sound feedback to enhance the training experience so that surgeons feel like they are in an actual operating environment. Progress is monitored via a computer-generated "score," which can evaluate measures like the amount of tumor removed, bleeding, and damage to healthy tissue.

The Neurotouch Simulation System, currently in its nascent phase of development, shows promise in developing and promoting many of the skill-sets currently utilized by neurosurgery residents. In addition, it provides practice for a wide-range of neurosurgical techniques, such as ultrasound aspiration, bipolar cautery, and tumor resection. Similar to the laparoscopic simulators, this "first-of-its-kind" device may prove to become an integral part of the training of the 21st century neurosurgeon.

Brain Surgery Simulation Research Project

The purpose of the study is to evaluate the ability of a virtual neurosurgery simulator to predict surgical skill and confidence in neurosurgery residents.  

This research study aims to objectively test the ability of the brain surgery simulator to predict and potentially improve "real world" outcomes such as surgical skill and confidence; the primary performance end-points of this study. These outcomes will be objectively graded by our Neurosurgery faculty through the utilization of a standardized ACGME Surgical Skills Evaluation checklist and a unique grading instrument developed by our research team.

Research subjects will include volunteer medical students at Icahn School of Medicine and residents and faculty in the Department of Neurosurgery at Mount Sinai. Our dedicated research team includes Neurosurgery faculty, residents, and staff.

The Neurotouch simulator offers a spectrum of sample practice tasks, including brain tumor resection, establishing hemostasis, and ultrasonic aspiration. The National Research Council of Canada (NRC), along with a consortium of Canadian teaching hospitals, is currently examining which of the aforementioned tasks best predict surgical performance in the operating room. In contrast, our project will examine the correlation between learning, and performance in the operating room.

We plan to take a multi-disciplinary approach to the validation and data gathering portions of our study, recruiting the help from various different clinical departments at Mount Sinai including Psychiatry and Biostatistics.

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Simulator Helps Students Practice Brain Surgery

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