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10 July, 2014 - 10:18 By News Desk

Simulator boost for global neurosurgeons


Patients suffering the life-threatening effects of a blocked artery in the brain now have the benefit of pioneering interventional treatments thanks to collaboration between Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Anglia Ruskin University.

There are some 152,000 strokes in the UK every year. The new initiative is being extended to specialists around the world.

Professor Iris Grunwald, who has a dual role with Anglia Ruskin and Southend University Hospital, said: “Southend has a history of excellence within stroke care and is considered one of the best centres in the country and we are now able to cutting edge interventional stroke treatments such as removal of clots directly from the brain with a minimally invasive technique.

“The chances of reopening a blocked vessel with this technique are by far higher than just medication alone and it gives us another option to help patients with the most severe strokes.”

As part of this, Professor Grunwald is ensuring that the teams involved in this procedure are highly trained by using a cutting-edge simulator in Anglia Ruskin University's Postgraduate Medical Institute (PMI) to perform procedures including carotid stenting and directly clearing a blocked artery in the brain.

The Simbionix ANGIO mentor simulator is only in use at a handful of centres in the country. It replicates heartbeat, breathing and is linked up to an internal camera which allows the operator to see inside the 'body' in real time. The images can also be streamed to a screen in a teaching room, allowing students to see the 'operation' taking place.

Professor Grunwald said: “The simulator allows medics to perform complex procedures in a controlled environment as close to a real life simulation as possible.

“It facilitates team learning by enabling the whole team involved in a procedure to benefit from training, ensuring every member of the team understands their role when in a real life situation, promoting greater safety for patients.”

The simulator allows teams to learn from real-time complications, how to reduce radiation exposure for patients and learn and practice every procedural step.

At the end of the simulation a performance report is produced to identify training success or areas for improvement and real-life patient data can be uploaded to for a trial run of a real complex case scenario, from any part of the body's vascular pathway including the brain and the heart.

After establishing a service in Essex, Professor Grunwald feels that Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trustand Anglia Ruskin University have a national role to play.

She said: “There is a need to train specialists nationally and internationally in this area. We will provide our expertise and training courses from the Southend Stroke Centre of Excellence to train individuals or teams worldwide.”


• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: The Simbionix ANGIO mentor simulator

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