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TCU Medical Students get unique first hand experience with latest laparoscopic technology

By Prescotte Stokes III

Originally published by TCU School of Medicine on April 19, 2022. You can read the original article here.

TCU School of Medicine welcomed experts from Olympus, global leaders in the development of medical devices, onto their campus in early February to give medical students an immersive and hands-on experience using the latest laparoscopic surgery equipment.

Jim Cox, M.D., an assistant professor at TCU School of Medicine, helped organize the event with the help of the Gastrointestinal and Hepatology Student Interest Group (SIG).

“When I was in private practice I worked extensively with Olympus and I reached out to a former colleague and asked could you provide this training session for the students,” Dr. Cox said. “The thing with Gastroenterology is that much of what we do is colonoscopy or upper endoscopy. We have first, second- and third-year medical students here just to give them the opportunity to see if they’re interested in Gastroenterology.”

Before immersing themselves into the technology, about two dozen medical students joined Dr. Cox for a brief presentation in the simulation lab. He gave a brief overview of typical things the students might see during residency.

“Let’s say an ulcer or a polyp or colon cancer and how are we going to treat those things,” said Dr. Cox. “Are we going to remove them? Are we going to remove an inanimate object from the esophagus that someone inadvertently swallowed? We’re talking about both urgent and non-urgent procedures that gastroenterologists encounter every single day.”

The medical schools’ simulation lab had laparoscopy training monitors and tools provided by Ethicon. The training monitors allow the students to see simulated examples of a laparoscopy, which are small scars on the abdomen. Students can use the monitors attached to the machine to practice suturing and knot tying techniques that require basic hand-and-eye coordination.

“This requires more than just being able to coordinate your hands,” said Sujata Ojha, a third-year medical student and co-president of the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Student Interest Group (SIG) at TCU School of Medicine. “There’s visual spatial movement and being able to know where you are in space and being able to maneuver without impacting the patients’ internal organs.”

Dr. Cox added that most of today’s gastrointestinal surgeries are done using a laparoscope, which makes this training much more beneficial for medical students.

“Most gallbladder, appendix and other intraabdominal organ removals are done using a laparoscope,” Dr. Cox said. “They leave very tiny scars which may actually go away in a few years as opposed to having the patient needing a big scar that could possibly stay for a lifetime.”

Gastroenterologists are advancing more and more into the use of laparoscopic procedures. A recent 5-year patient study presented at the 2022 International Gastric Cancer Congress in March showed  laparoscopy surgery compared with an open gastrectomy surgery was found to produce better overall survival outcomes for patients, according to the Cancer Network.

Mallory Thompson, a third-year medical student and co-president of the GI and Hepatology SIG, was excited about the demonstrations at the medical school.

“Medical students aren’t exposed to these kinds of medical procedures during their clinical rotations this is more for medical resident training,” Thompson said. “It’s exciting that our medical school faculty like Dr. Cox and our student interest group are setting up these kinds of opportunities for us.”

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