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Low-cost needle simulator to revolutionize medical training

Low-cost needle simulator to revolutionize medical training

The haptic force needle simulator is a low-cost, hand-held device that simulates the tactic feeling of the instrument passing through several layers of tissue which connects to a computer program that can assess the user’s performance.


CREDIT-Erin Cassidy Hendrick

Administering needle-based procedures in anesthesiology, such as epidurals, is a complex and delicate procedure which involves a high cost in training the doctors. The doctor’s hands need to produce a steady rate of insertion, which is very challenging.

The haptic-force needle-insertion simulator created by a team of researchers led by Jason Moore, associate professor of mechanical engineering has the potential to revolutionize training on surgical procedures and will make an impact, especially as it represents a low-cost method option. This needle simulator could also be adapted to train doctors in other specialties like emergency medicine, radiology, and surgery.

“There’s a buildup of force upon tissue deflection and a sudden release of force upon tissue puncture,” Moore said. “This project is in its infancy, but we hope it could follow the [central venous catheter] robot we worked on that is now a part of the surgical residency training curriculum at Hershey Medical Center,” Moore added.

Currently, the most effective way to train clinicians is to observe other doctors. but using the simulator, doctors will be better prepared for these procedures.

“Those of us who teach these procedures find it very difficult to teach the needle, eye and image coordination skills,” said Sanjib Adhikary, associate professor of Anesthesiology,

Other training methods, like using mannequins, are more expensive and do not account for the range of body types a doctor would encounter in their patients. This device is able to change its simulation based on these different scenarios, like varying skin thickness and excess body.

Read Also: Epidural analgesia doesn’t slow second stage of labor : Study

“It can raise the ability of residents before they begin performing these procedures on patients. It also gives them a very nice way to assess their performance and understand where improvements can be made.”Moore said. He added, “This project not only has the potential for commercial value but also for helping save human lives.”

The team hopes to test the device at Penn State Hershey and receive feedback from physicians.

Source: press release

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