Timely and effective colonoscopy follow-up for those who test positive for blood in the stool is critical to save lives, observes CSIRO Preventative Health Flagship scientist, Dr Trevor Lockett .
Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers in Australia, and the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is aimed at coping with situation. Still on an average 90 Australians die from colon cancer each week.
"As such, early diagnosis has become a national health priority," Dr Lockett said."Colonoscopy is a difficult procedure to master, and gastroenterologists require hundreds of supervised procedures to reach an expert level.
"Better trained surgeons will reduce patient risk, improve detection rates and make screening more efficient," Dr Lockett said.
CSIRO Project Leader, Josh Passenger, says the simulator provides photo-realistic rendering using gaming technology (OpenGL) and high-fidelity physics simulations using the processing power of the latest NVIDIA graphics cards.
"In a similar way that a software development company produces a computer game, we have generated realistic environments that enable trainees to search for polyps and abnormalities inside virtual patients," Mr Passenger said.
"We are currently developing a system that can produce realistic, randomised colons, so that surgeons can be prepared for a wide variety of colonic anatomies."
The device was developed in collaboration with Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland and was licensed to Swedish company, Surgical Science AB, which develops medical training tools using 'virtual' technologies.
The simulator has been developed by the Preventative Health Flagship in conjunction with the Australian e-Health Research Centre - a joint venture between CSIRO and the Queensland Government.