Interactive Medical Simulation Toolkit Released to Public

by Torie Wells on February 20, 2019

An innovative interactive medical simulation toolkit (iMSTK), created by a team of researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Kitware Inc., and University of Central Arkansas, makes it possible for surgeons, interventional endoscopists, and other clinicians to virtually hone their skills, plan new procedures, and develop novel medical devices and platforms. The potential life-saving benefits of this additional training are significant and have newly become easier to realize.

The iMSTK, which includes training scenarios such as creating an emergency airway, removing gastrointestinal tumors using an advanced endoscopy procedure, and others, is now available to the public at no cost.

“At the core we believe that we have a new technology which needs to be out there,” said Suvranu De, director of the Rensselaer Center for Modeling, Simulation, and Imaging in Medicine, who led the Rensselaer team.

De and his team worked with Kitware, a company focused on providing open source software, to get the iMSTK out to the public. The toolkit, De said, is essentially a framework that can be used to create highly realistic medical simulation environments that are interactive. While the use of this software toolkit, to develop real-time applications, will still require computer expertise, the iMSTK significantly decreases the amount of time needed to get it up and running.

This groundbreaking development was made possible, De said, by millions of dollars in support from the National Institutes of Health over more than a decade and a half. He said that seeing the iMSTK from conception to product is a story of success, and academic-industry partnership, within a larger effort toward improving patient safety.

“We were one of the original grantees of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. That was more than 15 years ago and they were one of the first agencies to strongly support our work,” De said. “They look at this as a full translation, something that they invested money in that is going back to the public through a company.”