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August 3rd, 2016

Advancing state-of-the-art surgical and interventional technology

By Enrique Rivero

Like all doctors, surgeons need to stay abreast of their field, but for them, doing so is complicated by the need to learn – and be adept at using – constantly evolving surgical technologies. They need a place to learn in a non-life-and-death situation. That’s where UCLA’s CASIT comes in.

CASIT stands for the Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology. Its mission is to define and advance the state-of-the-art of surgical and interventional technology, surgical education and training, and the delivery of medical care by surgical and interventional medicine specialists at a distance via telemedicine services. It does this through research, education, and telehealth.

It meets these goals by providing training in minimally invasive surgery, image-guided intervention, robotic surgery, and surgical simulation.  In cooperation with UCLA’s cognitive psychology discipline, CASIT also tracks how surgeons learn in order to ensure that the students get the most out of their training—and that CASIT provides these surgeons with very best training in these new technologies. The center also has a telecommunication center where surgeons perform surgeries and provide consultations from long distances and actually participate in the operations remotely.

Here to explain is Dr. Carmack Holmes, CASIT’s executive director

WHAT IS CASIT’s MISSION?

CASIT’s mission is nothing more, and nothing less, than to revolutionize surgical education and training. CASIT was accredited as a Comprehensive Accredited Education Institute by the American College of Surgeons in December 2015.  Surgeons require training to be certified to practice these new emerging technologies.

WHAT DOES IT DO?

CASIT provides an environment in which seasoned surgeons and surgeons-in-training can rehearse operations “virtually” through the use of advanced surgical simulators before actually performing a complicated operation on a patient. Think of it as analogous to cockpit simulation training for pilots.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

Simulations teach surgical accuracy and the adept use of robotics in a safe environment, helping ensure better patient outcomes and well-trained surgeons capable of handling the next generation of specialized surgical procedures.

WHAT’S UNIQUE ABOUT THE CENTER AT UCLA?

CASIT’s collaborative nature makes it special. It draws on the expertise of surgeons, physicians and researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.  Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is on the main campus, not far from its medical school, as is the case with other academic medical centers. This proximity allows CASIT to easily pull in expertise from bioengineering, the California Nanosystems Institute, applied mathematics, cognitive psychology and computer sciences. In addition, CASIT also has a close collaborative relationship with engineering and physics and has developed partnerships with industry.  These partnerships with industry and other academic disciplines are unique.

WHAT SURGICAL SPECIALTIES DOES IT TEACH?

CASIT teaches all the surgical specialties -- general cardiac, plastic, gynecologic, urology, head and neck, vascular, neurosurgery, and transplant surgeries as well as surgical procedures involving radiology, cardiology, digestive diseases and cognitive psychology. As noted above, the procedures include minimally invasive surgeries, robotic surgeries, and image-guided interventions.

WHAT IS THE ULTIMATE AIM OF THESE NEW TRAINING TECHNOLOGIES?

The goal is to limit surgical and other medical errors and to improve telemedicine, telesurgery and robotic surgery. The realization of those goals will, in turn, reduce health care costs, surgical complications, and surgical pain.

Tags: Cardiology, CASIT, Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology, Digestive Diseases, Dr. Carmack Holmes, image-guided intervention, interventional technology, minimally invasive surgery, Neurosurgery, News & Insights, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Prostate Cancer, Radiology, robotic surgery, Surgery, surgical education, surgical simulation, telemedicine, telesurgery, Transplant, Urology

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