Surgeon Perspectives on a New Simulator for Hydrocele Surgery

March 2019

Sitting in the far corner of the operating room, Dr. Adama Guira observed the increasing excitement of the surgical team as they prepped the patient to return to his room. Dr. Guira had just stepped away from the operating table a few minutes earlier, after the surgeons he was supervising had completed the hydrocele surgery and placed the last stitch. It had been an intense week with hydrocele surgery trainings and operations, and this was another complicated yet successful hydrocele surgery case.  

Dr. Guira thought back to the initial reaction of the surgeons at the start of the week, when they first saw the surgical simulator they would be practicing on, and how interested they were in performing hydrocele surgeries on it. Now that their training was completed to his satisfaction, he was confident with the level of care that the surgeons were providing and encouraged by the positive feedback he had received from them on the training.

“First, the training on the simulator allowed us to see practically how to proceed before operating on hydrocele patients.”

Over his extensive career as a urologist in Burkina Faso, Dr. Guira has operated on thousands of patients and witnessed first-hand the life-changing effects that hydrocele surgery can have on patients’ lives. This was what piqued his interest when he and three other well-known urologists form Burkina Faso and Ethiopia were selected to participate in a consultation to test a prototype of a surgical simulator for hydrocele surgery training. The simulator was developed to allow the trainees to practice various surgical skills such as incision-making and suturing, and to learn from their mistakes before they move on to live patients. The objective of the simulator is to help provide better trained surgeons and better patient outcomes.

“Healing and improving the condition of patients – this is our mission. And when we have accomplished this … then we feel good about it.”

At the start of the consultation, Dr. Guira approached the prototype—known as the Filaricele Anatomical Surgical Task Trainer (FASTT)—with a healthy dose of skepticism. But he soon realized that his input, along with that of his three peers, would help the project in perfecting the simulator’s design and would be instrumental in shaping the simulator’s use in hydrocele surgery training.

Over the course of the consultation, the surgeons tested the simulator, provided feedback on its feel and components, and critically reviewed the accompanying training videos and presentations. Their feedback led to a final version of the FASTT simulator. The simulator is part of a larger hydrocele surgery training package developed by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Morbidity Management and Disability Prevention (MMDP) Project. This package, called the FASTT Training Package, was organized as a combination of theoretical and practical training incorporating the most up-to-date global recommendations for hydrocele surgery.

Dr. Guira and his peers who participated in the consultation were trained as FASTT master trainers. Over the course of the following two years, they conducted trainings using the FASTT simulator for more than 120 surgical care providers across Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, and Mali.

The MMDP Project recently had an opportunity to follow up with some of the surgical care providers in Burkina Faso who were trained using the FASTT Training Package. They were invited to share their thoughts and impressions on the training received and the hydrocele surgeries conducted since. We invite you to take a few moments to hear their feedback here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LfvbLrv1SU). Based on the experiences in Burkina Faso, the Ministry of Health is supportive of integrating the FASTT Training Package into future hydrocele surgeon trainings.

Many thanks go to Drs. Guira and Milko Hubert Somé of Burkina Faso and Drs. Andualem Deneke and Messay Mekonnen of Ethiopia for their participation and invaluable feedback. The consultation was organized by the MMDP Project and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. For more information, please contact MMDPproject [at] hki.org.

Photo Credit: Bradley Cox- A hydrocele surgeon in Burkina Faso