One of the biggest challenges for pulmonary medicine residents learning to perform a bronchoscopic examination is understanding the anatomical relationships of branching in the bronchial tree while navigating with the laparoscope.
Current training tools are large, costly, physical devices. I investigated whether a digital simulation tool could provide a more time and cost-effective method of training residents.
I evaluated current digital surgical learning tools (most were not even interactive) and literature on spatial learning with medical advisor. The current surgical learning tools available were either not very good at teaching spatial learning or large mannequins costly several thousand dollars.
I researched game mechanics, applying principles of discovery and navigation in an FPS game to discovering issues in bronchial tree. I added HUD elements to provide orientation in the airway.
The simulation had 2 modes:
- Learning: Tips and prompts appear at certain regions to inform the user of important anatomy.
- Testing: The user was asked to navigate to a specific landmark or branch points in the airway.
I modelled an accurate bronchial tree in Autodesk Maya based on scan data and photographs of cadaver specimens, then built and programmed the simulation in Unity3D. I noticed that the motor skills required to operate the bronchoscope could be simulated with the Nintendo Wiimote. I created a web-based and wiimote version.
I performed guerilla user testing with med students to get feedback on usability.
- Simulation was approved by supervising physician and Master's Committee.
- Wiimote version was lauded by both advisors and med students.
- Received CIHR Health Communications Award and Vesalius Trust Research Grant in support of research project.
- Published findings as: Predy, L. and Dryer M. 2008. Virtual Bronchoscopy: Using Game Design Techniques and Technology to Create an Interactive 3D Teaching Tool. Journal of Biocommunication, 34:3, 34-36. Read it here