Students see inside the knee

Pan Am operation streamed online


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High school students in Manitoba experienced a crash course in knee surgery Thursday.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/05/2013 (3412 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

High school students in Manitoba experienced a crash course in knee surgery Thursday.

More than 1,200 students watched a live anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery that took place in one of the operation rooms at the Pan Am Clinic.

The 45-minute procedure was streamed online to a classroom at Sisler High School, and from there the live transmission was sent to schools across the province.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Sisler High School students watch a live knee operation performed at the Pan Am Clinic. The students did this via video conference and had access to talk with the doctor during the operation.

Organizers believe the interactive event — students were encouraged to ask questions to surgeon Dr. Peter MacDonald as he walked the class through the operation — was the first of its kind in Canada.

The interaction wasn’t limited to the captivated audience at Sisler. Remote students could pose their questions to Sisler students on a message board, and the queries were relayed to the operating room.

“Things can go wrong, that’s the risk you take,” Pan Am Clinic chief operating officer Wayne Hildahl said.

“But we were quite confident everything would go well and it did. It allows the students to be engaged one-on-one with the surgeon. You could see the students all watching intently.”

The live interaction between teacher and pupil is what made the lesson a success.

The subject matter — getting inside the torn-up knee of Dave, a 58-year-old who tore his ACL playing basketball — didn’t hurt, though.

“Having the interactive part made it a good experience, I think,” said Grade 10 student Nickolas Ducharme, who plays basketball, football and hockey at Sisler.

“As a sports fanatic like I am, you hear about players getting hurt and players recovering. Watching this, you see how the doctors repair them and the amount of recovery time needed afterwards.

“You get the sense of what you’re getting into when this all happens.”

Boris Minkevich photos by BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Sisler students watch a live knee operation via video conference Thursday.

The operation gave the classroom insight into the common sports injury. A camera inside the knee allowed students to see a partially torn meniscus before focusing on the ACL replacement. It also showed the procedure’s squeamish moments (specifically, drilling a hole through the tibia to serve as a suture point) in full scope.

A few students at Sisler rubbed their own legs, locating the ligaments MacDonald described on screen.

“I know quite a few people who have done their ACL — they’ve torn it and then had the surgery,” said Grade 12 student Aaliyah Masepela.

“Now I understand what actually happened.”

Officials were pleased with the teachable moment, both logistically and educationally, and said the clinic and high school would do something similar in the future.

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