Almost six million Swedish crowns* granted to research on surgical training

The only educational center in Sweden where you find specialist courses for development of surgical skills using donor bodies is located in Gothenburg. The center is called Kirurgiskt Anatomiskt Träningscentrum (surgical-anatomical skills lab) or KAT for short, which is a combined venture of the Sahlgrenska University Hospital and the Sahlgrenska Academy. Thanks to a generous grant from The Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet – VR) an interdisciplinary research project is able to be launched, studying the development of surgical skills in a controlled environment.

Developing skills in endoscopic surgery outside of the operating theatre has been possible for quite some time thanks to computer simulation, whereas for open surgery there are a flagrant lack of digital solutions for attaining the required skills. The operating techniques in open surgery are instead thought and learned in the old fashioned way through master-apprenticeship in the operating theatre, where mistakes might be hazardous to the patient on the table. Aside from patient safety issues there are also strong both economic and educational reasons for a review and revision on how we train the surgeons of the future.

With the traditional educational setup the skills practice is highly dependent on local conditions and available resources. The education and skills development might also be at risk of being down prioritized in favor of the clinical work. Furthermore, it is an educational environment where it is hard- to almost impossible to evaluate the efficacy of the educational effort, says Oskar Lindwall, associate professor and senior lecturer at the Department of Applied Information Technology, University of Gothenburg, principal investigator for the project.

World congress in Gothenburg

Although practice of open surgical skills on bodies of the deceased is commonplace in many other conuntries, there is scarcity of research performed on the subject. In the project at hand researches from the field of pedagogy, medicine and communication science come together to study surgical skills training and the evaluation of surgical competency in an educational environment where donor bodies are used.

I am very happy that we have received this grant, since I have been advocating the subject for the last 13 years. In my opinion the evaluation of surgical skills training is a topic which have not received the attention it deserves. It is also quite fitting that the project is centered here in Gothenburg, since we are also hosting a world congress on surgical training next year, says Margareta Berg, MD/Phd, orthopedic surgeon and responsible for course setup at KAT.

The 3D Surgicon Congress on scientifically validated surgical training is happening in Gothenburg (and digitally in the whole world) on the 5th-7th of May 2021.

Possibilities and limitations

The project will be focused on video recording of the different courses on surgical training at KAT, where a break down analysis of the material will be performed by both experienced surgeons and expert pedagogical researchers in collaboration.

Our hope is that the project will lead to scientifically validated and safer methods for the training of future surgeons. This hopefully in extension result in better safety and reduced suffering for patient, and lower costs for medical errors in surgery, says Margareta Berg.

The project is granted 5,7 million Swedish crowns from the Swedish Research Councils announcement for educational research, as one of six projects at the University of Gothenburg receiving grants from this announcement.

*Approximately 58000€ or 70000$

Original text in Swedish by Elin Lindström
Translated to English by Jonatan Regander