Surgery streamed live to students around the world

Surgery streamed live to students around the world

In its second year, education-to-health care connection goes global

Sisler students watch live stream
Sisler High School students watching the live stream of surgery done at Pan Am Clinic in 2013.

Winnipeg Health Region
Published Friday, May 23, 2014

High school students around the globe will have a unique opportunity to watch live surgery streamed from Winnipeg on Monday.

More than 1,000 students, some from as far away as Africa and Taiwan, will watch Dr. Peter MacDonald reconstruct a ligament in a patient’s left knee during a one hour long procedure that will be streamed online at 9:30 a.m. on May 26. This is the second year this education-to-health care connection has been made, and the first time it has gone global.

While MacDonald is working on the knee of a 29 year old man in the operating room at the Pan Am Clinic, a secure, high-definition video feed will be streamed directly to the library at Sisler High School. From there, the feed will be sent around the world using a Frontier School Division (FSD) protected computer bridge to students in northern Manitoba, Taiwan and Lesotho in Africa.

Jamie Leduc, department head of the Business and Information Technology Department at Sisler High School, says this is a superb learning opportunity for the students.

“The technology allows us to take more than a thousand students into the operating room, and lets them interact with the surgeon and the patient while the operation is going on,” said Leduc. “When I went to school, there were textbooks, and maybe video, to learn from. Students today have a wonderful chance to not only see the surgery live, but to ask questions as it’s going on.”

MacDonald will perform a reconstruction of the left anterior cruciate ligament on his patient, who damaged it a year ago. “There are cameras built into the operating room, which we use for teaching via TeleHealth,” said MacDonald. “The students relay questions to the surgical team, and to the patient as well. For example, they might ask about how long it takes to return to full strength after surgery, and how long the patient will be on crutches.”

MacDonald, who is the Regional Leader, Section of Orthopaedic Surgery, WRHA Surgery Program and Head, Section of Orthopaedics, U of M and Gibson Chair of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research, said Pan Am Clinic does around 5,000 operations per year. “Our 10 surgeons do between 400 and 500 ACL reconstructions a year,” he said.

MacDonald said ACL damage is often seen in people in their teenage years and their 20s, due to sports injuries. “It’s actually more common in females,” he said. “It’s something that needs to be repaired, because if left alone, more damage can be done to the knee, which sets the person up for arthritis later in life.”

Dr. Wayne Hildahl, Chief Operating Officer of the Pan Am Clinic, is pleased with the scope of this year’s connection. Last year, the video feed was tested to schools in northern Manitoba. That successful connection gave the go-ahead to reach out to the world.

“This truly is international,” said Hildahl, adding that the event wouldn’t have come about without the partnership between Sisler High School, the Pan Am Clinic, its Foundation, The Winnipeg School Division, Frontier School Division, and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. “It’s interactive, in that the students get to pose questions which are answered directly. There’s no video lag.”

Digital media students working under the direction of Leduc will manage the video feed, and receive typed questions from students around the world which they will relay verbally to the surgical team at Pan Am Clinic.

Sisler teachers have written a curriculum which prepares students to watch the surgery, including understand the anatomy of the knee, and how the surgery will progress, said Leduc. “We’ve sent this curriculum to the schools around the world, so they will be prepared for what they are seeing.”

The operation gives the students insight into what is a common sports injury, according to Leduc. A camera scope inserted into the knee allows the students to see a partially torn meniscus before focusing on the ACL reconstruction. “They are able to ask questions, like where does the replacement ligament come from,” said Leduc. “We’re also recording the stream, so we can go over it in more detail afterward.”

Manitoba communities and schools participating in the surgery through the Frontier School Division bridge include Mountain View School in Barrows, Joseph H. Kerr School in Snow Lake, Helen Betty Osborne Ininuw Education Resource Centre in Norway House, West Lynn Heights in Lynn Lake, Frontier Collegiate in Cranberry Portage, Grand Rapids School, Gillam School, Falcon Beach School and Duck Bay School as well as students within the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre.

Manitoba Telehealth played a crucial role in making this event happen by providing the technical infrastructure to connect the Pan Am Clinic  to Sisler High School, which in turn, allowed the connectivity to become global.

For more information, please contact:

Melissa Hoft
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

Jamie Leduc
Sisler High School
Winnipeg School Division