The ESU on Day 1 of ERUS15: Keeping education in step with technology

Tue, 15 Sep 2015 • Loek Keizer

The 12th Meeting of the EAU Robotic Urology Section, ERUS opened its doors in Bilbao on Tuesday, September 15th. A large part of the first day’s programme involved the European School of Urology’s educational programmes, including intensive courses and hands-on training. We spoke to Prof. Joan Palou, based in Barcelona and Chairman of the European School of Urology (ESU).

Prof. Palou: “We see a growing interest in hands-on training at every scientific meeting we are involved in. The ESU and the EAU Sections are promoting and hosting these activities since urology is primarily a surgical specialty that requires training and familiarity with the procedures.”

This year, the ERUS meeting offers hands-on training at two levels: intro and maestro. Palou: “The intro HOT is mainly for urologists that want to experience the sensations and to be introduced in the world of robotics. It’s aimed mainly at beginners in order to improve skills, hand-eye coordination and to be introduced to standardized skills.”

On the other hand, the maestro course is an interactive educational tool. The module presents the user with a 3D learning environment. Using the dV-Trainer, trainees manipulate virtual 3D robotic instruments to interact with anatomical regions within the augmented 3D surgical video footage. Maestro AR for Partial Nephrectomy takes trainees through the steps of kidney surgery.

Tuesday also sees an afternoon with five different accredited ESU Courses, covering topics like robotic prostatectomy; robotics in the upper urinary tract; robotic cystectomy and diversion; and robotic reconstructive surgery. Palou:

“These courses have been developed according to the most common techniques in the field of robotic assisted surgery. The concept of a course is to teach what has been established and more commonly used in order to transmit clear an up-to-date information about an specific robotic technique. This is an easy and practical way to transmit tips and tricks and personal feelings and sensations by faculty with a lot of experience with the technique.”

Keeping education in step with technology

As robotic urology is a highly-evolving field, with longer-term studies only just beginning to provide insights, standardising knowledge for courses can be a challenge.

“The reality is that since, the application of robotics in urology started only a few years ago, there has been an incredible evolution of the applicability and indications of robotic surgery in urology. Right now, as more patients have been treated and followed and there is more evidence about the functional and/or oncological results, there is a debate of the real position of robotics in our specialty.”

“The ESU, together and in close collaboration with ERUS, strives to change, improve or implement new courses or methodologies in order to improve teaching methodology for the urologists.”

Robotic urology in Spain

Barcelona is a key innovation centre for robotic urology, and so Prof. Palou is well-placed to comment on the state of robotic surgery in Spain.

“There has been a steady increase in the number of robots in Spain (though not as many as in other European countries), since we started in Fundació Puigvert in Barcelona in 2005 with the first da Vinci robot. Other centers have incorporated the technology and they are mainly occupied with radical prostatic surgery.”

“We have been pioneers in our country and in Europe in the application of the different possibilities that the robotic assisted laparoscopy offers: radical prostatectomy, partial nephrectomy, pyeloplasty, radical cystectomy, retroperitoneal lymph node dissection and recently kidney transplantation.”

Commenting on robotic urology in the host city of ERUS15, Bilbao, Prof. Palou had nothing but praise: “The urological group of Bilbao has been also an important group in the implementation of robotic surgery in Spain. They have been very active from the beginning and doing a very good job in all the different aspects in robotic surgery.”

“It has been a real pleasure to organize ERUS15 in collaboration with ERUS, mainly Prof. Alex Mottrie!”