Case Studies 2021 03 26 11h28 30

Transforming communication within a surgical team

Case Study
  • Oncology

A surgical team consists of members with different expertise, all working together with a goal of treating their patient in the safest, most efficient way. Communication amongst the team and an understanding of each other's perspective is crucial to working out the best plan of action, leading to the overall success of the operation while ensuring the patient is provided with the highest levels of care.

The area of the patient care pathway where this is perhaps most critical is in planning the surgical intervention. Typically, the patient’s 2D medical scans are used to shape the conversations around the pathology and potential surgical approach. For these teams, having fast access to detailed, reliable patient data is vital for their approach to be a success.

However, too often in complex cases, this 2D imaging does not provide enough detail or insight to clinicians to give them full certainty of their approach in surgical plans. This can further complicate the issue of bringing together multiple viewpoints to decide on the best resolution for the patient.

In this case, a patient in his forties presented with severe pelvic bone cancer that required clinicians from a number of specialties to plan and carry out what was an exceptionally complex operation. The lead surgeon requested a 3D model of the patient’s scans to fundamentally change the planning discussions by giving the team a 1:1 scale, three-dimensional, tactile view of the patient’s anatomy which re-enforced their planned approach.

The 3D model removed virtually all ambiguity from one surgeon’s anatomical interpretation to another while they debated the best way to proceed. This enabled the team to confirm their plan and practice their surgical plan 60 minutes faster than if they had not had the model at their disposal. Furthermore, it was also used to explain the plan to the patient in an understandable manner prior to surgery. A critical step in not only gaining informed consent to proceed, but in making sure the patient understood the operation and helping to alleviate any fears or concerns he had.

Not only was the 3D model invaluable in the planning phase, but the team then referenced the 3D model throughout the complex surgical procedure. Having one clear view of the pathology supported better communication within the team, which led to better outcomes for the patient who is now in recovery following a successful procedure.