Approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed each year in the United States, making it the second most common procedure performed on women in the U.S. And yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, an estimated two-thirds of these operations entail open surgeries rather than minimally invasive laparoscopic methods. The collaboration between AIMIS and KARL STORZ is focused on advancing solutions to facilitate the conversion of a greater percentage of procedures from more-traumatic open surgeries to laparoscopic approaches that offer patients shorter hospitalizations and faster returns to normal activities.
According to K. Warren Volker, MD, chairman and CEO of AIMIS, "We will assess the feasibility of using the latest teleproctoring methods to teach more advanced procedures to surgeons who are already comfortable performing basic laparoscopic procedures. The program will also examine the usefulness and advantages of this innovative teleproctoring/telementoring solution as an alternative to flying faculty members to each target teaching site." He explained that proctoring programs were hindered previously by the sheer logistics of bringing groups of surgeons together from various regions of the country for training. A further limitation on proctoring programs was posed by training being restricted to states where licensing was held. With new technology solutions, AIMIS can now offer training to multiple physicians across state lines.
The foundation of the program is the collective knowledge and experience represented by the AIMIS organization combined with the innovative "remote presence" technology of the KARL STORZ VisitOR1® System, a telecommunication solution used for active patient monitoring, such as perioperative mentoring, as is used in the new program.
A milestone training event was held November 16, 2011, at St. Peters University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ, where a total laparoscopic hysterectomy (TLH) procedure was performed, while the VisitOR1® System was used by Dr. Volker to facilitate live interaction, serving as the proctor in Nevada. The surgical team at St. Peters was led by Brad J. Cohen, MD, MBA, during the TLH surgery.
Throughout the procedure, the VisitOR1® unit installed in the New Jersey OR was positioned to overlook the surgical field and was linked by high-speed Internet to the laptop computer with specially embedded software. Dr. Volker used the laptop station that enabled him to view a live video feed from the OR at St. Peters as well as to essentially "project" his presence into the OR throughout the live surgery, viewing the procedure and even interacting with the surgical team. From the laptop, he could remotely rotate and control the visual perspective as needed. He was able to view each step of the TLH procedure and interact as needed with Dr. Cohen, as well as use the VisitOR1® units laser pointer to aid communication during key points in the procedure.
According to Dr. Cohen, "This was a tremendous achievement and was the talk of the OR. Everyone who was nearby during the procedure came in to see how the teleproctoring system was being used." He added that the teleproctoring technology is not really a surgical device for treating patients. Rather, it provides a technical solution that can help surgeons gain confidence and experience more quickly and easily. He said, "With the VisitOR1 capabilities, it was as if Dr. Volker was there constantly to offer advice and give a sense of confidence in my abilities. It astounded everyone how he was able to describe steps in the surgical technique and precisely indicate key areas with the laser pointer on the device. It really was like he was right there with us, looking over my shoulder, and not some 2500 miles away. This really is 21st century medicine."
The American Institute of Minimally Invasive Surgery is the nation's pre-eminent educator of minimally invasive surgical techniques. The organization both teaches minimally invasive methods and also supports graduates and members with opportunities where they can find marketing support, consulting services and strategies to help them grow and strengthen their practices. AIMIS also provides resources for patients, corporate partners and physician members and affiliates to help foster progress throughout the medical profession. For more information, please visit aimis.org.
ABOUT KARL STORZ
KARL STORZ Endoscopy-America, Inc., is an affiliate of KARL STORZ GmbH & Co. KG, an international leader for more than 65 years in reusable endoscope technology, encompassing all endoscopic specialties. Based in Tuttlingen, Germany, KARL STORZ GmbH & Co. KG is a family-owned company that designs, engineers, manufactures, and markets all its products with an emphasis on visionary design, precision craftsmanship and clinical effectiveness. For more information, call (800) 421-0837 or visit the companys Web site at www.karlstorz.com.