Kitware Receives NIH Grant to Simulate Rare and Adverse Surgical Events

Across the world, surgical simulation is used to help prepare learners for real-world situations — but not all simulators extend the opportunity for adverse scenario training. Kitware Inc., known for developing open-source medical platforms including iMSTK and Pulse, has been awarded a four-year grant from the NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering to help address the need for such rare and adverse events surgical simulators. This innovative surgical simulator will combine iMSTK and Pulse to create a physics-based virtual simulation where unexpected problems will arise during surgery just as they might in a real-world setting. The goal is to give practicing surgeons an advanced tool that will allow them to demonstrate superior technical ability post-training.

“There is a significant gap in current surgical simulators, which we will address,” said Rachel Clipp, Ph.D., technical leader on Kitware’s Medical Computing Team and project lead. “Most simulators train surgeons to perform routine operations but fail to include emergency situations that may arise during operation. We will develop high-fidelity virtual simulations that combine skill proficiency and resilience to improve the practicing surgeon’s ability to overcome stressful, unexpected events during surgery.”

This new surgical simulator is unique in that the product will also customize the adverse clinical simulation based on the response of the trainee. By integrating Pulse into the simulation, we will incorporate patient physiologic feedback into the simulation for a more realistic training experience. This work will also advance the iMSTK platform through feature development for hemorrhage, thermal injury, and anatomic variation simulations.

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Kitware is leading this team which includes the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (UB) with an End-User Advisory Group (EAG) from Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC) and University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW).

Acknowledgment: Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute Of Biomedical Imaging And Bioengineering of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01EB031808. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

More About Surgical Simulation

Surgical Simulation is a specialization of Medical Simulation, wherein students and professionals educate and train in modern surgical interventions by utilizing the latest advances in surgery simulator technologies. Surgery simulations can range from simple suture practice for a single learner to advanced robotic surgery simulations for an entire interprofessional surgery team.

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Surgical simulation has long been one of the leading specialties of medicine to incorporate simulation, alongside anesthesiology. This is due to the high costs, stresses, and risks of surgery, mixed with the specific need to train hand-eye coordinated movements utilizing specialized tools. Simulation has been shown to reduce costs, medical errors, and lethal infection rates while improving provider performance.

High-fidelity surgery simulators exist for the specialty fields of Laparoscopic surgery, neurosurgery, endoscopic surgery, trauma surgery, cardiac surgery, and interventional surgery. These products can both educate new students and help perfect mastery for working professionals by utilizing integrated learning curriculums, performance-based statistical reporting such as number or movements, and screen recording for faculty debriefing and assessment purposes.

Using real-time 3D rendered animation, haptic feedback devices, and the ability to manipulate realistic hardware instrumentation, high-fidelity surgical simulators have been readily adopted by the Surgical community. For example, The Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) certification by SAGES is one of the very few healthcare licenses that require skills demonstration through the timed performance of surgical simulation exams.

More About Kitware

Headquartered in Clifton Park, New York, Kitware Inc. has focused on advancing the frontiers of understanding by developing innovative open-source software platforms and integrating them into research, processes, and products since its founding in 1998. With a wide range of capabilities, Kitware powers computer vision, data and analytics, scientific computing, medical computing, and software process implementation/management. Kitware provides expertise in these areas through customization services, support, collaborative research and development, training, and books. For additional information on Kitware, please visit

More About the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

The mission of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) is to improve health by leading the development and accelerating the application of biomedical technologies. The Institute is committed to integrating the physical and engineering sciences with the life sciences to advance basic research and medical care. The NIBIB Imaging is one of 27 Institutes and Centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and synthesizes the best ideas from the diverse fields of science and engineering to improve human health.

Learn More About This Kitware NIH Grant Announcement

Today’s article was guest authored by Rachel Clipp, Ph.D., Technical Leader for Medical Computing at Kitware, Inc..

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