Student develops penis simulator which has become a key training aid for surgeons

Here’s a difficult one. If you’re a surgeon who’s called upon to perform surgery on a penis, where and on whom do you get your training?

The answer is you don’t. The ­somewhat unpleasant truth is you practise on cadavers. But now a King’s College London student, Zixi Wang, has led a study to develop a penis simulator for ­inflatable penile prosthesis surgery training. The simulator has a realistic anatomical structure and serves as an ethical alternative to cadaveric training.

By providing a lifelike training environment, it enhances the skills of surgeons in preparation for doing surgery on actual patients. To make it suitable for general use it’s been developed with affordability and accessibility in mind.

The simulator has been successfully trialled at the King’s College Hospital with promising results. Mr Wang said: “The simulator reduces the learning curve, improves surgical proficiency and instils ­confidence in surgeons, leading to more successful outcomes in penile implant surgeries.”

Ensuring a high level of accuracy and authenticity, the development process used pre-operative imaging scans obtained from a patient. The simulator was then constructed using advanced techniques such as 3D printing and silicone moulding.

Antonia Pontiki, of King’s School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences, who worked on the project, said: “This is a great example of how our team is developing ­technologies which can change the education and training of the new generation of surgeons.”

Collaboration and consultation were a key part of the project. Mr Wang worked with a leading manufacturer, Boston Scientific, in developing the simulator. He said: “I have had the privilege of working closely with leading ­prosthesis companies and esteemed urologists. Their expertise and insights have played a crucial role in refining the design and functionality of the simulator, ensuring its alignment with the requirements of real-world surgical procedures.”

Russell Etherington, senior manager medical affairs and medical education, urology EMEA at Boston Scientific, commented that there had been a lack of suitable 3D simulators for training surgeons in the procedure of penile prosthesis implantation. The work done in this study in closing this gap will hopefully shorten learning curves, improve surgical ­techniques and lead to better patient outcomes.

Goals we all believe in.