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Carleton University, CHEO teaming up to create AI-powered pediatric surgery simulator


Researchers at CHEO are teaming up with Carleton University students to build an artificial intelligence simulator that will help train the next generation of pediatric surgeons.

The AI-powered simulator aims to help surgeons in training hone their skills for highly technical laparoscopic procedures. In these procedures, long, narrow wands equipped with a camera and a light are inserted through slits as tiny as two to three millimetres long, allowing surgeons to operate inside pediatric patients, causing less stress on their bodies.

Huda Sheikh, wrapping up her fourth year at Carleton University, is part of the team partnering with CHEO to build the simulator.

"My role in this project was to develop a user interface that would support the technology we had implemented over the past year," she said. "So this involved creating an intuitive, user-friendly, controlled, risk-free learning environment that trainees and medical residents can use to practice their laparoscopic techniques."

Dr. Ahmad Nasr, pediatric surgeon and researcher at CHEO, says his team came up with the idea for the simulator during the pandemic.

"We teach the machine and then the machine will teach the trainee and this will minimize or even eliminate the need for an in-person instructor in the same room," Nasr said.

Rather than practicing on humans, the simulator allows surgical trainees unlimited hands-on training, performing tasks guided by a computer monitor, mimicking what's going on inside a patient's body.

"It's like the flight simulation in the aviation industry," said Nasr. "We're trying to simulate the simulator to simulate the real O.R."

Each gesture is recorded, analyzed and assessed using artificial intelligence.

"I think this project is very promising and it's paving the way towards better training, and hence, this will translate to less complications and problems in the surgery," Nasr said.

As CHEO and Carleton University work towards a final prototype, Nasr and his team are confident that the simulator will better prepare surgeons for the operating room. Top Stories

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