Stellenbosch University toys with GoPro cameras to assist with surgery students' learning
Cape Town - Surgery students at Stellenbosch University (SU) could soon have a literal surgeon’s eye view of surgery through the use of technology that will allow trainees a view of procedures from the operating doctor’s perspective, while maintaining the sterility of operating room environment.
A group of medical health professionals from SU have been working together with technical experts on a study to assess whether GoPro cameras, which are normally used for capturing high-speed sports and outdoor adventures, could also be used as an educational tool for surgery students.
Prof Karin Baatjes, from the division of surgery at the SU’s faculty of medicine and health sciences, said: “Wearable GoPro cameras allow recordings of surgical procedures from the surgeon’s view for additional educational purposes. These recordings could be used as supplemental material towards self-learning and revision by students and to build video libraries for research and assessments, too.
“Eight operations were performed by three surgeons who wore a head-mounted GoPro camera and the recordings took place during operative procedures on the standard weekly theatre lists to avoid impeding workflow and compromising theatre time or the patients’ condition,” said Baatjes.
However, Baatjes said there were some downsides to the experiment.
“Surgeons found the camera head band too tight and the camera heavy. The battery required recharging in between prolonged cases and not all patients provided consent for their procedures to be documented, leading to a small series of videos,” she said.
Meanwhile, the provincial Health Department has also harnessed technology for health and used it to treat nearly 2 000 diabetic patients via its virtual emergency care tactical operation, or Vector, platform which was implemented at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ahead of World Diabetes Day on Saturday, Premier Alan Winde, himself a diabetic, said: “We know that diabetics are the highest risk group for serious illness and death if they contract Covid-19.”
Departmental spokesperson Mark van der Heever said: “Since July up to the end of October, we’ve placed 1 786 diabetic patients on to the Vector programme. Of these, 1 093 were high-risk, 403 moderate risk and 290 low-risk diabetics.
"The lessons from the Vector project will certainly stand us in good stead as we explore future use of the programme to include TB patients,” said Van der Heever.
Chief of operations at the department Dr Saadiq Kariem said: “The Vector project went beyond normal routine services and offered a package of care even beyond what exists in the private sector.
“Both patient and GP network feedback has spoken to improvements in overall Covid-19 anxiety, improvements in glycaemic control and use of glucometers, and even requests to remain on the programme beyond their Covid-19 diagnosis,” said Kariem.