The Poole Hospital in England, working with Bournemouth University’s School of Design, Engineering and Computing, has developed an epidural training simulator, that allows for the precise training of a delicate clinical procedure. Epidural anaesthesia involves an injection into the patient’s epidural space, the area outside of their spinal cord, but inside the vertebral canal of the spinal column. Since an epidural injection is a difficult procedure to preform, and involves a number of serious risks to the patient if done incorrectly, an interactive 3D training simulator that will help reduce the number of epidural failures is a natural choice.
|Stereoscopic 3D Epidural Anaesthesia Training Simulator|
One of the hardest parts of an epidural procedure is monitoring the location and depth of the needle during the injection. This skill is crucial to a successful procedure. If the needle advances too far it will puncture the dural sac and cause leakage of cerebrospinl fluid, potentially resulting in :
- Debilitating headaches.
- Nerve damage.
Clinicians must learn to perceive which tissue layers the needle tip is passing through by feeling the resistance on the needle, a process known as haptic feedback. By including haptic feedback, the simulator allows trainees to learn to feel this resistance, and develop a visuospatial awaremess of spinal anatomy. The training simulator allows operators to see 3D visualizations of bone, tissue layers, ligaments, and the epidural space. The training simulator provides a safe and risk-free environment to learn the procedure, and ensures a higher level of patient safety.
A recently published book titled, Practical Applications in Biomedical Engineering, includes a chapter titled, Biomedical Engineering in Epidural Anaesthesia Research. Written by the doctors who worked on the epidural training simulator (Dubey, Vaughan, Wee, and Issacs), the epidural training simulator is discussed at length. Topics include:
- Epidural procedure and challenges of clinical simulation.
- Modelling and needle insertion forces.
- Pressure measurement for realistic epidural simulation.
- 3D spine modelling for epidural training.
- 3D visualization of epidural procedure.
The chapter concludes that through the use of 3D training simulators, that achieve a high level of realism and accuracy, epiduralists will receive better training, leading directly to increased patient safety by reducing the risk of failure. Medical training simulators help to reduce the learning curve, improve the success rate of procedures, and lower the potential risk to patients.