Hollywood effects for medical simulators

IDG News Service | Nov 10, 2015

Boston Children's Hospital teamed up with Hollywood special effects artists to create lifelike simulators to train surgeons on complex, high-stakes operations.

This lifelike simulator is helping train surgeons to save lives.

Boston Children's Hospital has partnered with a Hollywood special effects studio to create more lifelike simulators. The hospital unveiled two new ones at the Pediatric Innovation Summit in Boston. One will help doctors perfect neural surgery, another will simulate heart-lung bypass on a newborn, both emergency surgeries correcting potentially fatal conditions.

Peter Weinstock
Director, Boston Children's Hospital Simulator Program
We really wanted to look at two ends of an extreme. We wanted to pick a very challenging trainer to test this collaboration and one that you had to operate in an enclosed space. This particular trainer you're operating in a fluid filled space so really a technical challenge. And then we also wanted to look at trainers that would really move the needle in terms of patient care, meaning our most fragile patients that have the smallest degree of error and those are our neonates, our newborns, who for a variety of reasons might have heart lung failure. And they need to go on heart lung bypass at the bedside, emergently often during CPR. The current training model for those patients, if you call it that, is the patients themselves.

One of the biggest challenges with creating the new simulators was not just making it look real, but making it feel real. That's where Hollywood comes in.

Justin Raleigh
CEO, Fractured FX
For years we've created hyperrealistic effects. We're known for creating hyperrealsitic effects. The difference is that now we have to fool a surgeon and make sure that it's anatomically correct and it has the level of tactileness and the level of density hat real tissue would have. And there are varying densities throughout the body.

The simulators will go through trials at Boston Children's Hospital and eventually be commercialized, but cost wasn't revealed.