Health Team

Surgeons begin practice earlier with computer simulator

Posted August 31, 2012 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated September 4, 2012 11:15 a.m. EDT

— If you're about to undergo surgery, you want to know that your surgeon has had a lot of practice.

Surgeons have found it difficult to get all the practice they want using robotic surgical tools.

But a system at Duke University is giving surgeons that experience earlier and more often.

More surgeons are discovering the advantages of using robotic surgery.

Duke surgeon Dr. Ranjan Sudan says the new da Vinci computer trainer eliminates problems with hand tremors – it can work in tight spaces – and the learning curve is short.

The real robots used on real patients cost close to $2 million each, so most hospitals don't have many of them.

"Those robots are very heavily used clinically, and so that leaves less time for novices to really practice on the robot," Sudan said.

With a computer simulator, Duke surgery fellow Dr. Brandon Henry can get all the practice he wants.

"When we do it for the first time in real patients, it can be real anxiety provoking and stressful and this allows me to mitigate some of that stress," Henry said.