Investing in physician training to help improve lives
Dr. Simon Long studied the 80-year-old patient before him. A plastic tube snaked out of the man’s abdomen, emptying dark yellow fluid into a bag. His bile duct was blocked by stones, a condition that can lead to severe abdominal pain and even jaundice. But previous attempts to remove the stones endoscopically had failed. The patient had reluctantly begun to accept the possibility that the unsightly drain protruding from his body – with all the extensive daily cleaning and maintenance it required – might become his permanent reality.
But Dr. Long, a board-certified interventional radiologist, had another idea. A few months earlier, at an in-person clinical training hosted by Boston Scientific, he’d learned a minimally invasive procedure for breaking up hard-to-reach stones. Might it work in this instance? Dr. Long had a hunch that it was worth a try.
Hands-on continuing education for healthcare professionals
Life-changing technologies mean little if they don’t make their way to the patients that need them. That’s why, in late 2020, Boston Scientific launched EDUCARE, a free online platform offering personalized, on-demand education and training content in 18 different specialties, including procedural videos, case studies, access to Continuing Education and webinar opportunities. Since its launch two years ago, EDUCARE has had over 38,000 users around the globe.
The virtual offerings of EDUCARE also serve to prepare physician learners for in-person training sessions also offered by Boston Scientific as part of its professional education program. These sessions include preceptorships, in which attendees can observe live procedures in operating rooms; and hands-on courses in which attendees can practice surgical procedures on a model, under an experienced physician’s tutelage. Such in-depth trainings give physicians an enhanced understanding of the ways various technologies can diagnose, treat and manage challenging conditions – and, critically, gives them the foundation they need to start putting those procedures and devices to work on their patients’ behalf.
Dr. Long attended a training that focused on his specialty of interventional radiology (IR), a method of diagnosing conditions through medical imaging and treating them without major surgery. The coursework was rigorous, but also fit neatly into his schedule. First, he completed two hours of online learning, followed by a quiz designed to check his progress. Then came the hands-on session. Under the guidance of two experienced physicians, Dr. Long learned how to perform a highly complex endoscopic procedure called a percutaneous cholangioscopy, which approaches a patient’s stones from an unusual angle. The technique was specifically intended for patients with challenging anatomies – just like the patient Dr. Long was now facing.
Dr. Long knew he was ready. Through his training, he was now familiar with using the cholangioscope, an instrument unlike any in a standard IR toolbox. He decided to put his training to use.
Turning training into real-world success
Dr. Long threaded the SpyGlass™ Discover Digital Catheter through the route he’d practiced in his training: through the transhepatic ducts in the liver and down into the common bile ducts. From that angle, he was able to clearly see the stones, in three dimensions and in real-time. Keeping his eye on the stones, Dr. Long then passed an electrohydraulic lithotripsy (EHL) probe through the working channel of the scope and used its electric shock waves to break up the stones. Soon, post-operative imaging confirmed the procedure’s technical success.
“The Boston Scientific IR course really prepared me for the procedure,” says Dr. Long today. “I’m grateful to have used those skills to help my patient reach a positive outcome.”
A few weeks following the procedure, with the patient’s stones gone and his bile again flowing unencumbered, the drain was at last removed. Doctor and patient alike were thrilled at the results: a drain-free life.
Learn more about EDUCARE medical education and training programs at Boston Scientific.
Results from case studies are not necessarily predictive of results in other cases. Results in other cases may vary.