Sunnybrook is inventing the future of health-care through education
Education  >  News & media

Surgeons keep learning at new workshop

March 24, 2014

Even trained surgeons need to be the student sometimes.

General surgeons from across the province visited Sunnybrook recently to learn a new way of performing minimally invasive colon cancer surgery. And, when they finished learning about this novel way in the lecture theatre, they tried it too, in the safety of the Simulation Centre.

Dr. Shady Ashamalla, a minimally invasive surgical oncologist at Sunnybrook, performed this novel surgery with a live video feed connected into the lecture theatre. Attendees watched, asked questions and received real-time answers from Dr. Ashamalla.

After the surgery, the attendees gathered in the Sunnybrook Canadian Simulation Centre, where they had the opportunity to practice the surgery using high-tech simulators.

Dr. Ashamalla says the effectiveness of this educational forum comes from its format - using advanced simulation technology to enhance the traditional lecture-style learning experience. The participants learned from lectures, asked questions and participated in live real-time surgery, and then tried it themselves on simulators.

"Now, you don't have to just sit and watch to learn," he said. "We have the advanced simulation equipment so that surgeons can practice a procedure right away in a safe environment with no risk to patients."

About the surgery: Dr. Ashamalla performed a laparoscopic right hemicolectomy with intracorporeal anastomosis for colon cancer.  This means the right side of the colon was removed completely laparoscopically, with only tiny incisions, and the bowel was reconstructed the same way. The patient typically goes home within 48 hours (compared to 5 days with the open surgery)

About the high-tech simulators: these machines are true laparoscopic towers, exactly as in the operating room, with mannequins instead of patients to operate on. The technical skills necessary to conduct this operation can be simulated on synthetic bowel inside the mannequins, in order to master the technique prior to operating on patients. Johnson & Johnson and ConMed supported this initiative by lending Sunnybrook additional equipment.