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New Developments in Surgical Simulation: VirtaMed’s new ArthroS™ Hip

June 28, 2016

Get a behind-the-scenes look at VirtaMed’s latest ArthroS™ Hip Simulator. Learn more about the development of the ArthroS™ Hip. You will even get your hands on some top secret designs that didn’t quite make the final cut.

Dreams Become Reality

The ArthroS Hip, recently unveiled in June 2016 and available for customers later this year, is the most complex simulator that VirtaMed has created to date. Ideas for the project had been circulating for many years before dreams became reality. Before the hardware team began working on prototypes of the hip model, the team focused on getting as much medical knowledge about the hip and hip arthroscopies as possible. By collaborating with world-class surgeons and doctors like Michael Dienst MD, Claudio Dora MD, Patrick Zingg MD, and other medical professionals, the hardware team were able to not only create a new functioning hip model from the ground up, but also cater to the specific needs of medical trainers and students. As Erika Beudeker, our hardware engineer, explains: 

You need to know how surgeons understand and perform hip arthroscopy before you can create the simulator.

The Nuts and Bolts of Design

VirtaMed wanted to create a hip model that allowed for access training from both the supine and lateral positions because accessing the joint and establishing the portals is one of the most complicated aspects of hip arthroscopy. This led to the hardware team working with replaceable hip inserts that would allow for trainees to palpate for bony landmarks before making an incision. Finding the right materials to simulate this sort of training was not always easy though. The hardware team had to find a durable foam and silicone hip insert that would look, feel, and act like the skin, fat, and muscles on a real body. After many experiments—and the creation of a hip graveyard of sorts—a durable, reusable solution was found.

After the hip model itself was well under way, the hardware team focused on creating a stand for the hip. A eureka moment came when they were able to create a stand that could be used as a universal stand for all simulators to come. This significant improvement will have implications across all VirtaMed simulators. This universal stand will also help standardize shipping cases and packaging for the shipment of the simulators. Agile innovation and design thinking drove the development of many top secret designs. Here are some that didn’t make the cut:

hip dev. trio.jpg

Reality Meets Fiction

The hardware team worked closely with the software team while the virtual hip ‘world’ was created. Similarly to the hardware team, the software team first had to acquaint themselves with the anatomy of the hip before being able to create a virtual one. Their first goal was to create a visual and functional prototype of a healthy hip. After tweaking this prototype, hardware and software, along with sales and the Project Manager were able to meet with medical professionals to discuss and test the hip prototype. Working together in this close knit team meant that the project, despite some surprises along the way, was still efficient and very well-supported by internal and external experts. Johannes Kiesbauer, VirtaMed’s 3D artists who worked on the hip development, said that working with this close team and being able to see the fruits of his work come together while doing the first reviews with our medical experts was one of his proudest moments throughout the hip project.

The new fluoroscopy tool of the ArthroS Hip is one of the simulators best features. VirtaMed’s fluoroscopy is radiation-free and completely safe for training students. It is particularly good for access training because students can see the fluoroscopic image along with the internal and external views. The software team are proud of their endeavors in creating a fully functioning fluoroscopy feature.

fluroscopic image.png

A Star Simulator Is Born

Recreating the anatomy and the seamless interaction of anatomy with technology are both unique features of the VirtaMed development teams. These features are an extremely important part of creating effective world-class simulators. The precision in the design and creation of the hip model make it a must-have simulator for anyone training in hip arthroscopy. VirtaMed is excited to share this new product with the world, but in the style of true innovative creators they have already brainstorming for new projects to come.