Artificial replicates of the human bodies are already used for teaching young medical doctors important surgical skills: In the future, however, these so-called smart phantoms could also become a relevant instrument for the training of ultrasound diagnostics. The project SPUSI is a first important step in this direction.
It is one of the many goals of the TIMed Center to establish the circumstances and actions that are aimed at improving the quality of the medical doctors’ education. An important aspect in this context is the teaching of surgical skills. Some steps in this direction have already been made: Within the last couple of years, the Research Group Surgical Simulators Linz (ReSSL) has been founded, for example. This team is considered with the development of mixed-reality simulators. Last year, one of the first projects came to an end: NeedleTutor, a simulator consisting of a computer model, real surgical instruments equipped with sensors and a smart phantom. This phantom is a realistic replica of the human body, respectively of a part of it that is relevant for the training of interventions.
The project Smart Phantom for Optimization and Education of Ultrasound Imaging Diagnosis and Guided Interventions (SPUSI), however, which will start in October 2018, is aimed at demonstrating that phantoms serve more than one purpose. As the name already implies, the team of professor Andreas Schrempf intends to develop artificial bodies that reacts to ultrasound the exact same way human tissue does. If the project is successful, its results would not only contribute to a better image quality of innovative medical products: It would also expedite the development of new products, as less test loops would be required in the process.
Not only the industry, but also future doctors are expected to benefit from this creation, as smart phantoms are useful to train certain medical skills under rather realistic conditions. In this special case, this would be practicing ultrasound examinations. Collecting experience in this field by means of these simulators might result in a better quality of diagnoses made by physicians in the future.