Two Western New York schools were treated to an eye-opening real-time learning experience Thursday when a surgical procedure was webcast live from Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center to students attending STEM classes in Niagara and Erie counties.
The surgery, a single site robotic cholecystectomy, or minimally invasive robotic gall bladder removal, was performed by a team led by Memorial Chief of Surgery Venkat Kolli, M.D., F.A.C.S. The livestream webcast was produced by Niagara Falls High School students supervised by Media Education Director Rich Meranto. It was provided as an educational service to Niagara Falls High School and Williamsville East High School.
"This was an historic educational event for more than 250 high school students, many of whom we hope will seriously consider careers in medicine," said Memorial Medical Center President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo. "Virtually bringing 250 students right into the operating theater for a close-up look at a surgical team using the latest medical technology is an impactful way to demonstrate the importance of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics classes they attend every day."
Williamsville East science teacher Stacy Bernard said, "It is important to give (students) an opportunity to be part of some of the newest technology in the field. It also provided meaningful experience to which they otherwise might not be exposed."
Thursday's surgery featured the use of the da Vinci Surgical System, which enables qualified surgeons to perform even the most complex and delicate procedures through very small incisions with unmatched precision. Kolli said the gallbladder was removed through a one-inch incision in the patient's navel.
"The state-of-the-art robotic technology helped the team perform a procedure which would otherwise need four incisions," Kolli said. "We also used Firefly-integrated fluorescence imaging to make the operation even safer.
"It was a pleasure to participate in this educational activity."
Patients who have the single incision robotic procedure generally have less pain, faster recovery and fewer complications, Kolli noted.
The webcast was hosted by Physician Assistant Morgan Kilcullen, who explained the surgical process and the role technology plays in it.
Williamsville East High School Assistant Principal Corey Gray said, "Today's program offered an incredible opportunity to partner with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and Niagara Falls High School to bring a unique and enriching experience to our students. The ability to livestream this procedure allowed our classes to witness something that can only occur in a sterile environment, all while never leaving East."
He added, "We have many students interested in pursuing careers in the field of medicine, and NFMMC's willingness to facilitate and support this program has provided these students with a glimpse into the technology and personnel responsible for carrying out these incredibly important procedures."
Williamsville East High School students gathered in the school's auditorium to observe a livestream webcast of robotic surgery being performed at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.
In this screenshot, a surgical team from Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center performs minimally invasive gall bladder surgery. The Thursday morning procedure was live streamed to more than 250 STEM students at Niagara Falls High School and Williamsville East High School.