Virtual reality simulation offers training and education for knee replacement surgery

Specialty pharmaceutical company, Pacira Pharmaceuticals, has introduced a new virtual reality simulation intended to provide clinicians with a hands-on training experience in administering Exparel, a drug used in total knee arthroplasty (TKA). The simulation has been developed as part of the company’s ongoing Phase 4 TKA study.

The training tool used virtual reality and real-time haptic feedback technology to create a realistic surgical experience in a risk-free computer-generated environment. The simulation was unveiled at this year’s Annual Meeting of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS) in Dallas.

Pacira developed the platform in collaboration with a community of orthopaedic surgeons currently using Exparel for their knee replacement patients. The surgeons use the drug as pain management for their patients and hope the virtual reality simulation appropriately captures and accurately replicates the real-world clinician experience.

Beyond the immersive virtual reality experience, a haptic stylus allows users to experience the sensation of injecting Exparel into varying tissue layers and types. Real-time feedback with heat maps is provided showing clinicians’ actual infiltration results compared to the ideal distribution of Exparel throughout the surgical site.

“As a clinician who has experienced first-hand the impact of an enhanced recovery protocol in my total knee arthroplasty patients, I have found the addition of Exparel as part of a robust periarticular injection to be instrumental in pain relief and in patients’ post-surgical recovery. I was thrilled to be part of the working group who helped refine and perfect this comprehensive commitment to education that Pacira is making.” Practicing orthopaedic surgeon, Stan Dysart said.

Pacira is also launching a new virtual reality training engine developed in collaboration with the mobile training platform Touch Surgery. The training engine is being added to Touch Surgery’s extensive library of modules and provides users with the on-demand ability to practice infiltrating Exparel in a TKA by manipulating the exposure and angle of the knee, the angle of the syringe, the location of the injections, and the amount of volume distributed throughout the surgical site, all from the convenience of their smartphone or iPad.

Reece Armstrong is a reporter for Digital Health Age. Coming from the North East of England, Reece has an MA in Media & Journalism and a BA in Popular & Contemporary Music from Newcastle University. Reach him on Twitter or email via:

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