Epidural & Spinal Anaesthesia Simulator

Introduction

As the first truly effective solution for learning, refreshing and rehearsing the challenging techniques associated with administering epidural and spinal anaesthetics, the Epidural & Spinal Anaesthesia Simulator represents a major breakthrough in the field of medical training simulation.

Drawing on Simutech’s established track record in the field of tissue simulation, and JFH Medical’s expertise in electronics and software engineering, this product for the first time brings together the two main approaches to simulation, combining the best aspects of both 'virtual reality' and soft and hard tissue simulation, to provide a revolutionary new approach to medical training, which is both highly functional and cost effective.

These two elements work together to provide the trainee with the optimal combination of tactile and visual feedback, which help in turn to develop the required mix of skills and confidence which will provide the basis of a successful transition to undertaking these procedures in vivo.

The Simulator

The simulator is built into an executive style case to provide a portable, stable and functional operating unit, and is housed within an anatomical representation of the back, which can be supported in a fixed lateral or ‘sitting’ position. The ‘back’ incorporates the key landmarks required to allow the user to identify the correct access point, on commencing the procedure.

The main simulator module itself simply plugs into the simulated back. This module is constructed from a series of materials, which have been carefully researched to provide a highly accurate reproduction of the proportions and physical characteristics of the vertebrae, soft tissue layers and epidural and sub-arachnoid spaces.

A series of interchangeable modules, representing a variety of common anatomical variations are available, covering a broad range of procedural complexity.

The Sensor System

The simulator module also incorporates a network of sensors between the anatomical layers within the simulator. This system provides continuous feedback on the current status of the procedure to the software, and simply requires the connection of a single cable (supplied) from the simulator module to a PC's standard serial or parallel port.

The sensors are sufficiently robust to allow repeated puncturing, ensuring that this is very much a multi-use product, which can be used repeatedly before the simulator modules require replacement. At the same time, the sensors are sufficiently unobtrusive to ensure that their presence is in no way detrimental to the 'feel' of the procedure.

As and when the sensors do require replacement the simulator module can simply be returned to Simutech for rapid refurbishment/replacement, minimising the ongoing upkeep costs. The modules can quickly be removed from the simulator system, avoiding the need to return the complete product for refurbishment/replacement.

The Software

The software interprets the information from the sensors, to provide the user with an animated representation of the current status of the procedure (needle tip position etc.), using a graphical cross-section of the simulator module and needle profile (The user can select from Tuohey, spinal and combined spinal needle profiles). These graphics have been extensively researched, to provide a balance between anatomical accuracy and the needs of the novice. This graphical information is complemented by relevant audible feedback.

The software uses a familiar 'web-browser' format, to provide a user friendly interface which demands little previous PC experience. The software has been designed to run on even the most basic PC system running Windows 95 (or higher), to ensure compatibility with the vast majority of desktop or laptop PCs.

The Complete Picture

It is through this interfacing of the two traditional approaches to simulation that the key to this product's success lies. Through undertaking the procedure on the simulator, the user will accurately experience the tactile feedback which is gained when the procedure is carried out in vivo. The software then adds an additional dimension, by providing continuous audio-visual feedback which allows the user to actually see the position of the needle in relation to the key anatomical landmarks.

Through repeated use of the simulator, the user will begin to consciously and subconsciously correlate these two streams of information, thereby developing an understanding of how to interpret the tactile feedback to generate a picture of the procedure's current status, which can be substituted for the software when undertaking the procedure 'blind'. As such, the simulator will help the user to generate the skills and confidence required to successfully undertake these procedures in vivo.