Proof of concept project aims to explore new ways of using surgical videos in education

For years, the AO has been successfully using high-quality, standardized surgical videos for education purposes. Now, with the support of the AO’s Strategy Fund, a project is underway to look into the expansion of formats and applications of surgical videos for educational purposes.  

The eleven-month proof of concept project began in May 2023 and is led by AO Faculty member Tobias Fritz in collaboration with the AO Education Institute (AO EI) and AO strategic partner RIMASYS. 

Passion for innovation 
“This project arose from discussions between AO President Tim Pohlemann, AO Education Commission Chairperson Mark Reilly, and AO EI Executive Director Tobias Hüttl,” said Fritz, an associate professor at Saarland University. “I am a friend of innovation and improvement of surgical techniques, I’m very interested in education, I’m a video guy, and I love to create content. This project allows me to combine these passions.” 

Those passions—and learners’ need for increasingly high-quality, standardized educational material—positioned Fritz to lead the project. To prove the concept, Fritz and his collaborators will create high-quality surgical video material with multichannel application and the possibility of integrating 3D elements showing the surgeon’s perspective during an operation. 

Raising the standard
“Compared to the current standard for surgical videos, we are innovating with the multichannel acquisition of motion and still pictures in 8K resolution,” Fritz explained. Based on multiple video streams, including 3D, video material could be remixed and reedited for various uses, including:

  • Full-length surgical video, including an introduction, the approach, and fracture reduction and stabilization 

  • Short videos for social media, with a focus—for example—on the most important aspects of a procedure or on a specific aspect 

  • Use of the video material as a “re-live” presentation with a surgeon and moderator providing live commentary on the video to create an authentic live atmosphere  

  • Exploration of 3D video options which could open a virtual learning space 

Fritz said the video content could also supplement existing high-value tools like the AO Surgery Reference. 

“For example, if you’re a surgeon looking to refresh your skills before a surgery, you could choose between a longer video covering all aspects of a surgical procedure or opt for a quick refresher video,” he explained, noting that short “reels” have the potential to fortify the AO’s social media presence and play a role in community development. 

Vast expertise under one roof 
Proving such an ambitious concept requires funding, expertise, and management, and when it came time to seek resources, Pohlemann—who chairs Saarland University Hospital’s trauma, hand, and reconstructive surgery department—steered Fritz to the AO’s innovation funding. 

“The AO’s innovation funding has brought a lot of resources together for us, from the AO Education Institute which is providing project management and connecting us to internal resources like the AO Surgery Reference and to strategic partners, to RIMASYS for expertise on manuscript preparation, organizing the film crew, and accessing anatomical specimens,” Fritz explained. “The AO team is easy to work with: They help you think and rethink your whole project, and they provide valuable guidance and access to internal and external expertise—and because it’s the AO, there’s a lot of expertise all under one roof.” 

If you are a practicing surgeon, we encourage you to take the survey linked here that we are using to collect feedback on these video reels. 

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