, Volume 22, Issue 8, pp 1876-1881
Date: 28 Dec 2007

A lifelike patient simulator for teaching robotic colorectal surgery: how to acquire skills for robotic rectal dissection

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The use of robotic systems for colorectal resections is well documented, but robotic surgery is not yet established as a substitute for all laparoscopic colorectal procedures. The features of the new-generation robotic system seem to be well suited for proper mesorectal excision, with the identification and preservation of autonomic pelvic nerves. Proper training in the use of robotic skills is essential.


This report describes the creation of a pelvic model that can be used to teach the complex skills needed for successful completion of robotic rectal dissection. The model was designed to be cost effective, portable, and reusable in multiple teaching programs. Both the setup and size of the trainer were designed to be the same as those for a real patient and to allow for proper simulation of port placement in a true robotic rectal dissection. The operative field was molded directly onto a replica of a human skeleton, and the materials that make up the trainer closely replicate the consistency of a real patient.


To date, no adequate artificial pelvic models have been available for rectal dissection. Cadaveric models are expensive, and virtual reality trainers, although offering an attractive alternative for some procedures, currently are not available for complex robotic tasks such as rectal dissection. One major advantage of this trainer is that it allows for the surgeon to develop proficiency in both the areas of robotic setup and console without the assistance of a second surgeon.


The trainer described in this report provides an accurate simulation of true robotic rectal dissection. Its portability makes it easy to use at various hospitals. As robotic surgery becomes more common, this training tool has the potential to help surgeons quickly build the skills necessary for the successful use of robotic surgery in the area of rectal dissection.

Presented at the 2007 Sages Meeting, Las Vegas, NV, 22 April 2007