CORDIS - EU research results

Realistic, accessible, and affordable models for surgical education

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ReSurg (Realistic, accessible, and affordable models for surgical education)

Reporting period: 2019-06-01 to 2019-11-30

In 2018, 404,920 women in EU-28 and 562,568 in WHO Europe were estimated to be diagnosed with breast cancer. The return of women to their pre-cancer lives depends on the medical and aesthetic success of the surgery that they will go through. The women who are not content with their body after the surgery can forego the treatment (e.g. chemotherapy and radiotherapy) and checkups. One-step operations, (i.e. oncoplastic operations) are known to decrease the cost and partially alleviate the trauma of surgery. Mastering oncoplastic techniques requires practice; however, currently, surgeons-in-training practice on the very patients that have promised to take care of. Lack of fresh tissue/organ models hinders the quality of medical education. There is a need for an affordable, accessible, and reliable training platform for surgeons to learn at their own pace in a safe environment.

On Surgitate’s breast model, several modern oncoplastic surgery techniques can be practiced faithfully. This tactile model enables surgeons-in-training to: i) cut the model with surgical scissors or blade, ii) undermine and deepitalize, iii) take a piece out, iv) suture the model back, and v) manipulate the position of the areola.
Even though, the most common cancer in women is breast cancer, through early diagnosis it is possible to increase survival rates. Surgitate offers an “awareness product” where a poster that describes breast exam carries a tactile breast model with hard masses that should not be there. The aim is to remind women of their routine checks and to potentially prevent bad outcomes. We work with corporates that pay attention to the health of their employees to place this “awareness poster” in the women lavatories.

Breast model. One in eight women experiences breast cancer in her life. The return of these women to their precancer lives depends on the medical and aesthetic success of the surgery that they are going to go through. The women who are not content with their body after the surgery can forgo medical treatments (e.g. chemotherapy, radiotherapy). One-step “breast conserving” methods are known to decrease the cost of the operation and partially alleviate the trauma of the surgery. Surgitate’s flagship model is a breast model where all modern oncoplastic techniques can be practiced. Through our tactile platform, we facilitate the making of better surgeons.

Self-awareness model. Surgitate's self-awareness campaign is a poster with a tactile breast model that contains lumps which should not be there. We sell this poster to corporates which pay attention to the health of its women employees and we list them as “aware companies” in our website. We advise them to place these posters in women’s lavatories such that the campaign encourages women to follow up with their routine exams—by somewhat scaring them.
We have conducted a detailed feasibility study report, compared our innovation to current solutions and analyzed initial market entry for the next phase of the project.
We carried out questionnaires among our test users and ask the attendees about the possible benefits of using hands-on models. Above 90% of the surgeons-in-training underlined that they would like the courses they attend to utilize the models.
We have reached out to key opinion leaders in the USA, Canada, and the UK to ask the possibility of incorporating their opinion in the product design, learn about their past experience on the use of surgical models (if any), and explain what we want to achieve globally.
We have negotiated a distribution agreement with the USA and recruited test users for the awareness board. We are also developing a collaboration for the incorporation of the awareness boards into already established self-control training programs in India and Europe.
Currently, the breast model is at TRL 7, it is utilised among our test users; yet, we need to adopt this model to the medical curricula of a wider audience. We are also modifying this model such that it can serve in plasty courses to simulate breast augmentation and reduction.
The poster with a breast model for ‘cancer awareness campaign’ is at TRL 7 stage, we are teaming up with medical personnel and a public relations agency to provide a tangible education and extend our reach. Currently, our commercial lead is visiting the target companies to describe the product.
We choose to create “breast cancer awareness” through breasts. Our product is composed of a poster that explains self-exam and a breast model that contains lumps that should not be there. We convinced corporates to place this poster into the women’s lavatories such that a woman will face a breast model with lumps on average 4–5 times per day. We encourage women to take action for their health, care about themselves, and create the time to follow up their routine exams by somewhat scaring them and reminding them their health is vital for their loved ones.