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Surgery Simulation Program Garners International Recognition

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

University of Rochester Medical Center urologist Ahmed Ghazi, M.D., has been awarded first place at the Falling Walls Lab Finalein Berlin, Germany. His presentation was selected from among 100 finalists from institutions from across the globe who were given the opportunity to pitch breakthrough ideas in science to a jury of academic and business leaders.

Ghazi was awarded for his presentation titled "Breaking the Wall of Surgical Errors" which describes the work of the URMC Department of Urology Simulation Innovation Laboratory and its innovative approach to building patient-specific replicas of anatomy that allow surgeons to practice complex case prior to the actual surgery.

During his presentation in Berlin, Ghazi cited the fact that an estimated 1,000 deaths 10,000 serious complications occur every year from preventable medical errors and half of these errors are due to poor performance during complex surgeries.

"To address the challenge of surgical errors, we used the aviation industry as a source of inspiration," said Ghazi. "It is one of the few high stakes industries that have reduced errors to less than one percent due to the widespread use of advanced flight simulators that allow pilots to train in a fully immersive environment."

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Exact replicas of organs help surgeons get ready for operations

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Two weeks before undergoing surgery for a cancerous kidney tumor, Tim Wainwright met with his surgeon.

Dr. Ahmed Ghazi reached into a plastic bag and pulled out a lifelike model of Wainwright's kidney — right down to the mass that the surgeon would remove and the blood vessels he'd preserve.

"It was so dense and heavy," Wainwright remembered.

"It was pretty surreal, holding onto something that was an exact replica of one of my own organs."

Ghazi directs the Simulation Innovation Laboratory at the University of Rochester Medical Center, where a team of biomedical engineering and medical students make organs specific to a patient so that surgeons can rehearse for complicated procedures.

"We aim to develop realistic models for every single organ, which would then translate into every single procedure in the surgical field," Ghazi said.

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Practice Makes Perfect -- Fake Organs Guide the Way for 'Impossible' Cancer Surgery

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Anthony Camnetar remembers the first time he was told that he had von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. He was 12 years old and his mother, who had just picked him up from school, broke the news through tears realizing the health challenges her son would face for the rest of his life.

While he didn't fully understand it at the time, Anthony -- now 23, married, and a father -- would later grasp the significance of that day years later when it came time to remove the dozen tumors that had sprung up throughout his body. He would start down a path that would result in multiple surgeries at different hospitals and long and frustrating periods of recovery.

His journey would ultimately lead him to University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) urologist Ahmed Ghazi, M.D., who would build an exact replica of Anthony's kidney -- complete with tumors -- allowing him to practice the complex surgery Anthony required long before he went under the knife.


Ahmed Ghazi, M.D., holds a lifelike model of Anthony Camnetar's kidney

A Race Against the Clock

The gene responsible for suppressing tumors is flawed in von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, resulting in uncontrolled cell grow and division. This, in turn, can give rise to tumors in multiple organs which typically begin to appear in early adulthood. A few years ago, Anthony underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his brain. Physicians also spotted multiple tumors in both of his kidneys and his pancreas.

Operating on Anthony's kidneys posed a significant challenge. During this procedure, called a partial nephrectomy, the surgeons attempt to remove the tumors while preserving as much of the healthy kidney tissue as possible in order to avoid the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant. The kidneys are highly prone to bleeding -- despite their small size, they received 20 percent of the heart's blood output -- so surgeons will typically clamp the vessel that supplies blood to the organ before resecting the tumors. However, this makes the procedure a race against the clock as blood flow must be restored within 30 minutes or the kidneys become irreversibly damaged.

Read More: Practice Makes Perfect -- Fake Organs Guide the Way for 'Impossible' Cancer Surgery