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Changing Surgical Education in Japan – For Safer and More Secure Surgery –

2014.06.02

Unit Name:
3D-CG Virtual Operation Unit
Unit representative:
Professor Nobuhiro Ohkohchi, Faculty of Medicine

Unit members:
24 (13 faculty members, 2 postdoctoral fellows, 9 from other organizations)

Key words:
medicine-engineering liaison, virtual reality, operation simulation, 3D-CG, haptics

URL:

 

Surgery is widely applied as first-line cancer treatment today. With a low surgery-related mortality rate, Japan is regarded as a country providing safe surgical services. On the other hand, as a training period of more than 10 years is needed to become a surgeon, the number of Japanese surgeons is decreasing annually, and is likely to decrease to a third of the present number in the next 20 years. This research unit is engaged in the development of operation simulation systems and training materials, aiming to shorten the period of surgical training, while maintaining the level of surgical treatment.

Developing 3D-CG Virtual Operation Simulation Systems Combining Engineering, Arts, and Medicine

Up to the present, surgical education has been provided through reading manuals and observing surgical procedures. However, such paper-based manuals only show anatomical illustrations, and it is difficult to visualize each procedure and the visual field during surgery. Considering such a situation, this research unit has developed 3D-CG virtual operation simulation systems combining cutting-edge technologies in the fields of engineering, arts, and medicine. Using these systems, it is possible to virtually move and manipulate organs. They also enable users to simulate desired situations based on the entered data, such as “clarifying the degree of liver deformation when compressing” and “identifying blood vessels at the site of incision” (Figures 1 and 2). Currently, a new 3D-CG virtual operation simulation system for the liver is under development, and will be followed by those for the pancreas and pelvis.

Figure 1: Stretching the left and right sutures, and incising the liver between them to expose the inner blood vessels

Figure 1: Stretching the left and right sutures, and incising the liver between them to expose the inner blood vessels

Figure 2: Setting the degree of transparency of the liver at 0 to observe hepatic vessels; the system allows the realistic simulation of surgical procedures.

Figure 2: Setting the degree of transparency of the liver at 0 to observe hepatic vessels; the system allows the realistic simulation of surgical procedures.

Changing Surgical Education in Japan from the University of Tsukuba

We have also developed the “21st Century Movable Surgical Textbook” to enter all surgery-related data in a tablet PC and use them as easy-to-understand and movable texts. Through reading-and-observing learning approaches, a training period of approximately 15 years was necessary for surgeons to become able to perform surgical procedures by themselves. Our 3D-CG virtual operation simulation systems and movable textbooks are expected to markedly shorten such a long training period. We aim to contribute to the improvement of the surgical treatment level and number of surgeons in Japan by changing surgical education from the University of Tsukuba.

Social contributions and achievements
● Having a marked impact in the field of clinical medicine by combining surgical procedures requiring image-based anatomy and IT technology, with a synergistic effect; the combination has been particularly effective to train clinicians, as well as medical students.
● Accumulating data obtained from next-generation 3D-CG virtual operation simulation systems on community- and nationwide-bases and creating environments to share them, in order to evaluate surgical techniques and perform collective intelligence-based analysis
● Improving the surgical treatment level and standardizing the quality of cancer treatment services in Japan
● Contributing to the creation of new surgical techniques and maintenance of the number of surgeons by developing next-generation 3D-CG virtual operation simulation systems and the 21st Century Movable Textbook as useful and effective training materials for medical students and surgeons

(Interviewed on November 13, 2013)


Research Administration/Management Office at U Tsukuba TEL 029-853-4434