ArthroBox™ Training System Innovates Surgical Skills Training – Complex Goal, Simple Tool
Arthroscopic procedures have been a daily routine in orthopaedics for decades, and it typically takes surgeons many years to become skilled enough to carry out complex procedures in a safe, dependable, efficient and reliable way. Acquiring the expertise for arthroscopic surgical procedures requires a smooth interplay of spatial orientation, manual skills and arthroscopic know-how. The hand-eye coordination required to manage the camera and instruments from different perspectives within the joint space is a critical and demanding step in the training of all surgeons.
These basics are usually taught in classes and workshops with the help of plastic joint models or cadavers. In recent years, sophisticated and costly simulators have also been used for educational purposes in order to prepare future arthroscopic surgeons for their responsibility of treating patients. For financial and logistical reasons, classes on models and cadavers, as well as practical training with virtual simulators usually only allow students to spend a limited amount of time on their individual training.
During their arthroscopy fellowship in Canada in 2012, two young surgeons, Samy Bouaicha, MD, and Will McCormick, MD, developed the idea for a simple and affordable arthroscopic training tool that they called ArthroBox. In doing so, the main objective was to create an abstract tool in the form of a box, the size of a knee or shoulder joint, with exchangeable modules to be used as skill plugs. The intention of this box was to provide the opportunity to practice basic arthroscopy skills anytime and anyplace, without limitation.
“The ArthroBox was conceived as a portable low fidelity trainer for teaching triangulation and arthroscopic motor skills,” said Dr. McCormick. “This is a simple but effective tool that allows busy residents, fellows, OR assistants, and industry partners to efficiently use as little as five minutes of downtime to improve skills of direct importance to arthroscopy. For trainees, we see the ArthroBox as a way to maximize precious operating room time by mastering critical skills before patient contact. Modularity allows us to systematically develop the building blocks for complex arthroscopic techniques that might otherwise take hundreds of operative cases to learn and the options are practically limitless.”
After returning to Switzerland after this fellowship, Dr. Bouaicha continued developing the first prototype of the ArthroBox as well as the skill plugs and found the ideal partner in Arthrex to finalize and launch this innovative tool.
“In my eyes, Arthrex is the undisputed leader in arthroscopic education worldwide and a great effort is made to support all levels of expertise from medical students to expert orthopaedic surgeons,” said Dr. Bouaicha. “After developing the name, design and a fully functional prototype of the ArthroBox and the skill plugs, I felt confident in partnering with Arthrex to pair my workbench manufactured product with the high-end production and marketing know-how needed to bring ArthroBox to life.”
This is where Arthrex’s GmbH staff from Munich, Germany came in to further develop the technology and software needed for the ArthroBox. As the project progressed, the team of developers expanded to become a global product development team. The team currently consists of staff members from both GmbH and Arthrex Inc.'s Digital Media team, the Imaging & Resection Product Management team and Arthrex California Technology staff. The result was a skills training kit with a fully integrated arthroscopy video camera, scope and LED light source that simply plugs into a laptop as a monitor with a modular, enclosed fixture to practice a variety of arthroscopic surgical skills and techniques anytime, anywhere.
“This has been an example of how we can move things ahead globally as a team,” shared Mike Cottle, Arthrex Director of Imaging & Resection. “It’s been a great project because of the collaboration between the teams globally from Digital Media, Imaging and Resection Product Management, Arthrex California Technology and many others.”
The mobility of the box, the "plug and play" principle, as well as its affordability, makes the ArthroBox a practical tool for students’ and surgeons’ arthroscopic surgical training.
“ArthroBox fills a gap in the education process,” added Pierre Guimard, Arthrex Imaging & Resection Product Manager. “Not only for orthopaedic residents, but for our agency’s technology consultants to be able to train on these vital skills.”
ArthroBox Kits currently available include:
• Rotator Cuff Practice Kit
• Glenohumeral Instability Practice Kit
• Meniscal Repair Practice Kit
• OCD and Fracture Fixation Practice Kit
More kits will be released on a regular basis as new modules are developed.
“In the capable hands of Arthrex, we are excited to watch ArthroBox reach its fullest potential in the next few years as passionate educators collaborate on this project,” shared Dr. McCormick.
Click here to view an ArthroBox demonstration video presented by Christopher Adams, MD, Arthrex Director of Medical Education.