Los Angeles,
07:32 AM

Robotic Surgery Bootcamp Trains Next Generation of Surgeons

Experience-based Training in The Women's Guild Simulation Center for Advanced Clinical Skills Increases Surgeons' Technical Mastery, Improves Patient Safety, Outcomes

Robotic technology is becoming an increasingly common sight in operating rooms, giving surgical teams new tools that can speed up surgeries and improve patient outcomes.

To help the next generation of surgeons improve their robotic surgical skills, Cedars-Sinai offers quarterly robotic surgery bootcamps in the The Women's Guild Simulation Center for Advanced Clinical Skills. The training sessions provide medical residents and fellows with the opportunity to train on the newest equipment under the guidance of experienced leaders in the field. 

"Robotic surgeries will be the future for today's residents, and it's essential that they get hands-on training with the latest, best equipment in the most lifelike settings possible," said Harmik J. Soukiasian, MD, the Tawil Family Endowed Chair in Thoracic Surgery and program director of the Advanced Robotic Thoracic Surgery Fellowship.

Training the Next Generation

The robotic bootcamp consists of mock surgeries, virtual simulations and real-time feedback from seasoned robotic surgeons based on lifelike scenarios typically performed on cadaver tissue infused with red food coloring to closely simulate real procedures.

The experience-based training increases surgeons' technical mastery to improve patient safety and outcomes.

Akbarshakh Akhmerov, MD, a fourth-year surgical resident, recalls a training session in which the "patient" experienced unexpected bleeding during a complex lung surgery.

"It's nice to learn how to deal with it in a simulation lab so that when it does happen in real life, and inevitably something like this will happen, we can deal with it in a calm and collected manner," Akhmerov said.

Taryne A. Imai, MD, executive medical director of Surgical Simulation and associate program director of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Program, knows the importance of building a strong training program.

"Training like this is extremely important because the residents need that real feeling of that jump in their heart rate when they see blood rushing out after a blood vessel injury, enabling them to react and manage the situation safely," Imai said. "As robotics become more of a mainstay in how we're evolving our surgical techniques, our residents are going to be put at the forefront of training."

The robotic bootcamp model, initiated through the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Cedars-Sinai, has expanded to several surgical disciplines across the hospital, including colorectal, gynecologic and general surgery.

Where We've Been to Where We Are

Cedars-Sinai is one of the busiest thoracic surgery programs in the Western U.S. Housing eight Da Vinci Robots by Intuitive, the Da Vinci Single Port Robot and two ION Navigational Bronchoscopy Robots, the medical center is the only institution in the nation to deploy all of the Intuitive robotic surgery technologies.

With more than 1,700 robotic surgeries performed annually at Cedars-Sinai, surgeons see myriad benefits for patients, including shorter hospital stays, decreased pain and better surgical outcomes.

The Future is Now

Soukiasian, awarded an educational grant by Intuitive to fund a dedicated advanced robotic thoracic surgery fellowship at Cedars-Sinai, sees the future of surgery unfolding right before his eyes. He notes that the practice of surgery has evolved over the last several decades—from open surgeries to laparoscopic or thoracoscopic procedures to the use of robotic technology in the OR.

"The robot gives me the opportunity to be dexterous in accomplishing various surgical tasks simultaneously, which optimizes the efficiency and safety of the operation," Soukiasian said. "When I'm doing a minimally invasive operation, I have two hands. When I'm doing a robotic operation, I have four hands."

Read more from the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Leading the Way in Innovative Robotic Technologies to Improve Outcomes, Shorten Recovery Time