DENVER, CO, August 5, 2021. A Virtual Reality (VR) training module for Adolescent Scoliosis using vertebral body tethering (VBT) from PrecisionOS® is winning praise from surgeons, worldwide.
Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) is an inherently complex spinal deformity that affects 2–3% of children. 1 With nearly 1M visits per year2 leading to more than 30,000 scoliosis surgeries annually in the United States3 . Until the August 2019 FDA approval of vertebral body tethering (VBT) for this condition, surgeons had no alternative to using posterior spinal fusion in the OR, a surgery requiring a large incision on the back, rods and screws associated with significant blood loss, pain and hospitalization. Originally studied as a viable alternative, the use of VBT has emerged as a promising solution in the right indications. PrecisionOS, known for tackling difficult orthopedic surgical problems with training solutions, is now offering direct practice in VR for VBT.
PrecisionOS’ VR demonstrates how a VBT procedure, done through the child’s chest using small incisions and a camera, leads to a significant reduction in all the challenges of big open surgery. Teaching the procedure, however, requires a new skill set and has, up to now, been expensive. During the procedure, surgeons first attach screws to the spine and then attach the tether (rope) to the screws. Tension applied to the tether straightens the spine; over time, the curve will continue to improve as the child grows.
1 Weinstein, S. L. Natural history. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 24, 2592–2600 (1999).
3 Noshchenko A, Hoffecker L, Lindley EM, Burger EL, Cain CM, Patel VV, Bradford AP. Predictors of spine deformity progression in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: A systematic review with meta-analysis. World J Orthop. 2015 Aug 18;6(7):537-58. doi: 10.5312/wjo.v6.i7.537. PMID: 26301183; PMCID: PMC4539477.
Taking on any new procedure or technology can be daunting, but surgeons rise to the challenge every day. And with the advent of virtual reality (VR), things have gotten a lot less complex, and less expensive than live classroom and other forms of training. PrecisionOS continues to earn praise from both experienced surgeons and medical institutions for addressing major training needs with the company’s unique approach to surgical simulation.
“It is incredible how PrecisionOS has been able to truly simulate the experience of anterior vertebral body tethering using the Tether™ System in virtual reality. The surgeon is permitted to make decisions, instrument the spine thoracoscopically, tension the Tether™ to correct the spinal deformity and really understand how to offer this cutting-edge surgery to their patients. It is technology solutions like this that will allow surgeons to feel comfortable executing a procedure with a steep learning curve and truly feel confident when planning their first handful of cases,” says Dr. Miyanji – Pediatric Spine Surgeon BCCH, Clinical Professor UBC Department of Orthopedics, explains.
Discussing his company’s new scoliosis surgery simulation platform, CEO and orthopedic surgeon Danny P. Goel, M.D. says, “As a surgeon, I appreciate the complexity of this procedure and the education required to learn this interplay of both thoracoscopy (scope in the chest), instrumentation, deformity correction all under intraoperative x-ray. It is for this reason our software permits the learner to correct the deformity in real time, make mistakes and other critical decisions that might arise in this rich, safe and portable learning environment. The consequence in these young patients is too high to build anything less.”
NewCo, a recent spinoff from Zimmer Biomet, is using the procedure as an augment for both surgeon and sales training given the complexity of the procedure and the typical delay that is present with traditional hands on training and clinical cases.
“Our collaboration with PrecisionOS comes at a critical time as we spin off from Zimmer Biomet and continue our mission to deliver best in class spinal products, services, and medical education,” says Rebecca Whitney, President of Global Spine for Zimmer Biomet. “Virtual reality simulation can significantly enhance surgeon training and we are very impressed with the unique user experience that PrecisionOS creates within that space. Equally impressive is the level of professionalism and collaboration that PrecisionOS has brought as a business partner, supporting our goal to deliver safe and effective VBT procedural outcomes for our surgeon customers and their patients.
Up to now, VR training has attracted attention primarily for its “wow” factor. Looking beyond that, PrecisionOS continues to show commitment with high quality research supporting their educational content driving towards improved patient outcomes. This approach has resulted in an increasing number of partnerships with leading medical device companies, more than 40 medical institutions and several professional societies including the ASES in orthopedics.
“Scoliosis is a significant surgery in this growing population. An endeavor that we must understand intimately at all levels,” says Dr. Goel. “The positive consequences for this new procedure in this patient population are very significant. It requires accurate and complete simulation training to drive confidence and proficiency, goals that only a thoughtful educational VR software platform can assist with.”