Grant Application

Syed Ashraf, MD, Ernest Chan, MD, and Pablo Sanchez, MD, UPMC Presbyterian

Proposed Innovation

Cardiothoracic surgical trainees spend about two months with the UPMC lung transplant program — one of the nation’s highest volume programs of its kind. Each fellow assists in eight to 15 lung transplants during their training. However, attending transplant surgeons may be reluctant to delegate critical portions of the procedure to an inexperienced resident, especially those involving connections between small arteries and small veins.

This project fulfills a critical need for a simulator that allows trainees to practice lung transplant anastomosis, or connections, between the small arteries and veins.

Improvements in Action

Working in collaboration with biomedical engineers at Carnegie Mellon University’s Feinberg lab, a modular lung transplant surgical anastomosis simulator will be developed. The simulator will provide a high-fidelity, low-cost setting where trainees can repeatedly practice lung transplant anastomosis with feedback by the attending surgeon.

The simulator will consist of a box shaped like a human thorax with a clamshell incision on its anterior surface. Inside the box will be a 3D-printed mold of a thoracic cavity, along with a silicone-like heart and two lungs. The heart, trachea, and lungs will each have a port, allowing insertion of a bronchus, left atrium, and pulmonary arteries.

Intended Outcomes

Having a simulator will allow surgical trainees to improve their technical skills, which can be verified by the attending surgeon. With increased skill and confidence, the trainee will be able to perform more lung transplant procedures on actual patients.