Tag Archives: Surgical Innovations

Sutkin receives NIH grant to develop technology for safer surgeries

Gary Sutkin, M.D., has received a $600,000 research grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop technology that will make surgeries safer.

Gary Sutkin, M.D., director of the UMKC School of Medicine’s Surgical Innovations Laboratory, has received a three-year, $600,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop simulation technology that can be used to prevent surgical errors.

With magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a 3-D printer, Sutkin plans to create a high-fidelity pelvic simulator and use motion analysis to identify surgical errors involved in Midurethral Sling surgery.

Sutkin, professor of surgery, serves as associate dean for women’s health and is Victor and Caroline Shutte Endowed Chair in Women’s Health at the School of Medicine. He chose this particular surgery for his research because it is common in older women and includes a high-risk step. During the procedure, the surgeon must blindly guide a sharp, pointed steel trocar past vital structures, including the bladder, bowel, and major blood vessels.

Performed to improve quality of life, the procedure also has the potential for catastrophic outcomes.

The project will use MRI to create a virtual model of a human pelvis of a patient with reproducible stress urinary incontinence. From that, a 3-D model will be printed, assembled and tested for fidelity to human tissue.

A group of five seasoned surgeon who are experts in Midurethral Surgery and five surgeons who are novices in the procedure will perform the surgery on the model. Motion analysis will collect kinematic data of shoulder, elbow, and wrist motions. The information will be combined into a 3-D model to analyze movements that lead to the most common errors: perforation of the bladder or bowel, and injury to the external iliac veins.

Sutkin’s groundbreaking research has the potential to have a major impact on the prevention of surgical errors by minimizing patient distress and health care costs. Once successful, Sutkin said he plans to incorporate the technology into the School of Medicine’s surgical residency program and apply the approach to reducing errors in other surgeries.

Surgical Innovations Lab puts patient safety at the forefront

Gary Sutkin, M.D., has established the School of Medicine’s Surgical Innovations Laboratory.

At the UMKC School of Medicine’s Surgical Innovations Laboratory, Gary Sutkin, M.D., professor of surgery and associate dean for women’s health, is taking a different approach to research.

As director of the lab, Sutkin, who also serves as the Victor and Caroline Shutte Endowed Chair in Women’s Health, has gathered an interdisciplinary team to look at ways to make surgical procedures safer for patients.

Inside this third-floor “think tank” one can find a pair of large bean bag chairs sitting in a corner on a colorful rug. A portion of one wall is filled with large-screen video monitors. A rectangular conference table in front of the wall is surrounded by different colored chairs. This is all by design, Sutkin explains.

“It’s all about creativity,” he said. “The chairs being different colors represent different ideas that people bring forth. It wasn’t just convenience. The people we work with come from different backgrounds.”

Gary Sutkin, M.D., leads an interdisciplinary team that is exploring ways to make surgical procedures safer for patients.

Biomedical engineers, mechanical engineers, and even a theater instructor, gather to discuss surgical procedures and how the operating room team of nurses and technicians can more effectively work together. They do this through studying practitioners’ movements and non-verbal communications.

“We’re one big community here, trying to make surgery safer for patients,” Sutkin said. “We’re trying to make it safer by cutting down on errors and improving communication. The operating room is such a fast-paced, high-risk environment. You have all these people from different backgrounds trying to work together, all with the same goal to have an effective, safe surgery. But they have to communicate well to do that.”

Physicians learn to do better by talking about the mistakes that take place during surgical procedures. One of Sutkin’s projects involves interviewing a number of surgeons to get their perspectives on surgical errors and how to prevent them. It’s a topic that he says surgeons think about often and are quite open to talking about with colleagues.

“I’ve told my mistake stories over and over,” Sutkin said. “It’s only by putting them out in the open and talking about them that we can learn from them and fix our ways.”

The work of the Surgilab is supported by a grant from the University of Missouri Review Board and funding from Sutkin’s endowed chair appointment.

With his research assistant, Fizza Mahmud, and a cohort of interdisciplinary colleagues, Sutkin and company are also exploring the process involved in Midurethral Sling Surgery. The procedure is a minimally invasive approach to treating a common urinary problem of incontinence in women. But it also involves surgical risks.

During a work session, Sutkin grabs a handful of playdoh and begins to form a shape to help describe to the non-medical members of his team the female anatomy and how the surgical instruments are used during the procedure.

“Human error is a part of any high-risk industry,” Sutkin said. “Whether it’s aviation, the railway industry, or surgery, it’s going to happen. You’re never going to get it down to zero, but you’re always trying to make it lower and lower.”