Research on “Microbox” Training Tool: How an iPhone and a shoebox can make critical surgeries more accessible in low-income countries
Did you know that the iPhone and a shoebox can make surgical training more accessible in low-income countries? Dr. Mohamad Ramadan, a young plastic surgeon from Jakarta, Indonesia, is testing how effective this low-cost and easy to construct combination can be in training residents from low-income countries in microsurgical techniques.
Microsurgery is critical because it helps patients presenting with trauma, burns, cancer, or congenital defects. It requires the use of magnification technology to better visualize and repair tiny anatomic structures such as blood vessels and nerves. Microsurgeons can do things like: reattach fingers from accidents; rejoin blood vessels and nerves of skin grafts to treat burns; reconstruct breasts after breast removal for the treatment of cancer.
In many low-income countries, there is a demand for these kinds of surgeries because of the high incidence of, for example, motorcycle accidents on crowded, busy streets, or burns from cooking over open fires or from worn, exposed electrical cords. However, there is a lack of plastic surgeons who typically perform these surgeries. Worse yet, there are serious barriers to microsurgical training that requires equipment such as sutures, microsurgical instruments and a microsurgical microscope. By far, the most expensive equipment is the microscope.
Dr. Ramadan’s research combines the magnification from an iPhone with an aperture cut into a box to simulate the magnification of a microsurgical microscope. With the support of ConnectMed International and UC San Diego Division of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Ramadan is testing the efficacy of this training “box” on surgical residents at UC San Diego, Mexico City, and his home institution in Jakarta. Initial data indicate that the residents involved would recommend the tool to colleagues, and that it held benefit for microsurgical training in low-income countries.
His abstract on this topic was accepted by the WSSS (World Society for Simulation Surgery Annual Meeting) and he presented his research at this conference in October 2020 to specialists from around the world in conjunction with the ASPS meeting.