3D Systems' Simbionix Simulators: The World's Leader in Medical Innovation and Advanced Surgical Training Technologies
Inbal Mazor, Vice President of Products, Medical SimulationImagine that you are a doctor’s first-ever surgery patient. How would you feel as you entered the operating room? In the world’s most advanced medical training institutions, surgeons now have extensive hands-on simulated experience long before they ever touch a patient. Simulating a medical procedure on a realistic patient’s anatomy helps physicians acquire the practice that they need before they enter the OR. This builds a surgeon’s skills, procedural knowledge and confidence before operating on a patient.
Simbionix simulators provide a safe environment to make errors and practice various cases and procedures. The simulators compare the learner’s performance against benchmarks so that educators can determine competence and assign more tasks and procedures until competence is achieved. 3D Systems is the only company that offers simulators that span a wide range of medical specialties and surgical procedures. These include laparoscopic, robotic surgery, ultrasound, endovascular, gastrointestinal, bronchoscopy, arthroscopy, nursing, OB/GYN, urology and more.
Simbionix simulator development began in 1997 with the mission to create a virtual reality medical simulator to improve physician training and patient outcomes. The company aimed to create a virtual environment where physicians could learn the skills and procedures necessary for success in the operating room without the risk of training on a live patient. “Our challenge was to create medical simulation that provides trainees with practical feedback,” says Inbal Mazor, 3D Systems’ Vice President of Products, Medical Simulation. “To do this, we needed a strong collaboration with physicians and medical institutions worldwide. The human body is unique in that each person is different. Medical professionals help us to learn the challenges of manipulating a tissue and maneuvering within the complex anatomy and we translate this knowledge in a way that enables physicians t o be trained.”
3D Systems’ Simbionix simulators provide a complete solution for training programs. It is this commitment to medical education and ultimately their goal to improve patient safety, that is the driving force behind the Simbionix simulator product line.
Recent product releases include the use of virtual reality goggles where learners can have a fully immersive experience and see the entire surgical team, hear sounds and have a 360 degree view of the OR. Surgeons can also practice on patient-specific simulation where MRIs or CT scans are imported into a simulator. This offers surgeons a chance to practice on a patient’s simulated anatomy before the actual surgery.
"Our challenge was to create medical simulation that provides trainees with practical feedback"
3D Systems developed MentorLearn Cloud that allows program directors to manage their Simbionix simulators via a cloud-based management system so that medical institutions can access the technology anytime, anywhere. The company also works with institutions to devise customized curriculum for medical trainees.
3D Systems is continually enhancing its virtual reality product line to make the virtual environment more immersive
The highly innovative R&D department also developed D2P (DICOM-to-Print) software that is used by medical staff for preoperative surgical planning and the export of patient-specific 3D digital models. These 3D printed models are used to explain anatomy and procedures to patients, to discuss the surgery with the surgical team prior to surgery, and to train medical students, residents and fellows.
The company also works closely with medical device firms. 3D Systems’ medical device clients use customized simulators to train their sales and support staff on how their products are deployed inside the human body. Simbionix simulators show how patients will react to medical devices such as stent or other surgical devices. These companies can then go to hospitals or medical facilities and train physicians in their specific methods, with confidence of how the medical device will work.
“Several trends will play a significant role in the future of healthcare—virtual reality, robotics, team training, and 3D printing. 3D Systems has been developing products in all of these areas,” said Ran Bronstein, Vice President, Chief Research and Operation Officer. “3D Systems is continually enhancing its virtual reality product line to make the virtual environment more immersive. Team training is also a big part of that, as more medical institutions require training on communication and technical skills. As medical robotics have developed, so has the demand for education on how this new technology can be used to improve patient outcomes.”
What sets the Simbionix product line apart? Continual R&D development of new simulators and modules such as our advanced robotic surgery simulation offering. No other medical simulator company has such a wide range of products under a cloud-based education system. The company aims to continue its collaboration with the medical industry and medical societies from around the world. Clinical validations and thousands of Simbionix simulator installations show that there is a need for highly realistic training simulation and that 3D Systems is the world’s leading medical simulation provider.