(l-r) A box trainer uses real instruments to teach hand-eye coordination and practice routine procedures such as suturing. The virtual reality, or VR, trainer uses a large screen and gives instant feedback.The canine abdomen models allow surgeons to the feel the confinement and shape of the abdominal cavity.
Established in 2008, the VALT laboratory’s mission is to develop, validate, and implement veterinary laparoscopic training programs. The aim is to bring the basic laparoscopic skills training out of the operating room, where different techniques can be practiced and explored. Research studies have shown that additional training in the VALT lab improves skill level. The long-term goal is to create safer surgeons, for the benefit of animal patients.
Unlike traditional surgical techniques, laparoscopic surgery can be performed using very small incisions. Surgeons look at magnified images on television screens while using long instruments to perform the surgery or diagnostic procedures. Because laparoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure, there are fewer risks for the patient and recovery time is much quicker. The VALT laboratory currently offers skills training to WSU residents and veterinarians, and plans to offer elective courses to DVM students in the near future. As the lab grows, the hope is to expand training to veterinary surgeons from other universities.