UMKC students working to reduce surgical error

Posted at 4:28 PM, Sep 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-07 19:59:36-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The work that engineering and medical students are doing at the University of Missouri - Kansas City could one day save your life in a hospital.

For most students, a ‘good job’ in class usually results in an ‘A.’ 

But, for UMKC students working on a project focused on reducing surgical error, it’s more than just passing the class. 

"Worldwide, probably about one out of 200 surgeries are fatal,” said Gary Sutkin, M.D., M.B.A., Professor and Program Director. 

Medical and engineering students at UMKC are hoping to reduce that number to zero. 

"Putting the engineers and the medical students in the same room has a huge benefit,” said Antonis Stylianou, an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UMKC. 

The group is taking a closer look at one high-risk surgery in particular. The midurethral sling surgery. 

"Probably the most common injury is that this spear here impales the bladder and that happens maybe 5-10 percent of surgeries. The more fatal injuries like bowel injury or blood vessel injury happen in less than 1 percent of surgeries, but still, it's way too much,” said Sutkin. 

Using motion sensors and 3D models, they’re looking to get a better picture of what’s causing the injuries. 

"By simulating the surgery on the model, we can see what motions I’m doing and correlate that with the injuries themselves,” said Sutkin. 

The data collected during a simulation surgery can then be translated it into clinical advice. 

"You can see benefits because by the time they actually go into the surgery room, they have a very clear understanding of what they need to do and why,” said Stylianou. 

This isn’t the first time medical and engineering students at UMKC have teamed up, but it is the first time they have studied the midurethral sling surgery.