Published December 20, 2021
The Department of Surgery hosted the 2021 Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) Flexible Endoscopy Course for Fellows at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences building.
An international contingent of 42 fellows from across the United States and Canada participated in the event Oct. 7-9, held in Buffalo for the first time.
Eleanor C. Fung, MD, clinical assistant professor of surgery, who served as one of the course chairs, says the course is conducted annually, but is rotated between sites such as Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and the University of California, San Diego.
“We were very excited to hold a course of this caliber here. It was something new that we’ve never done before so it was great to be able to showcase our facilities,” she says. “We are hoping that every two or three years, we will be able to host the course again.”
The UB Research, Innovation, Structure, Simulation, Education and Engineering (UB RISE) facilities on the sixth and seventh floors of the Jacobs School building were used for teaching the course.
“We decided to hold the course now that we have a more robust endoscopy curriculum and it also coincided with the building of the UB RISE facilities,” Fung says.
Indeed, Steven D. Schwaitzberg, MD, professor and chair of surgery and president of UBMD Surgery, says “The creation of UB RISE, in fact, has enabled the University at Buffalo to host sophisticated advanced procedural training events at a level never before achieved at UB.”
The Surgical Skills Lab on the Jacobs School building’s seventh floor was the main facility used for teaching the course.
“These fellows are usually minimally invasive surgery fellows so they are learning laparoscopy and performing bariatric surgery — a lot of foregut work,” Fung says. “This course provides the endoscopic curriculum for them in a more hands-on, less pressure scenario.”
“It is very intensive. For two-and-a-half days, they were immersed in endoscopy. They do not get that kind of immersion during their fellowship,” she adds. “They have a lot of other procedures to learn so this was nice that they were able to just focus on endoscopy and do it in a lab environment with a lot of experts in the field supervising them.”
During the course, the fellows became familiar with GI endoscopes, towers and the instruments used for endoscopy and endoscopic surgery.
“Fellows normally start Aug. 1 so we like to hold the course in September or October so it’s at the beginning of their fellowship,” Fung says. “They get acclimated to all of the instrumentation. A lot of the time they may not have necessarily seen these procedures so it's mostly hands-on experience, learning how to use the equipment so they can take that back and use it during their fellowship.”
Fung says an ex vivo pig model was used in the simulations to provide a close-to-human model with actual tissue.
The openness of the Surgical Skills Lab created an ideal environment for the course, Fung says.
“Our facilities are a nice open concept in that you can move between the Tjota Advanced Procedure Suite and the main lab, which worked out perfectly in terms of separating different stations,” she says. “Everything is in the same building so the lectures and labs were all in a very close proximity. It is the perfect venue for this type of course. We had all the equipment that we needed.”
Fung has attended the course at other institutions and says at those sites participants had to walk to different locations and there were walls dividing a lot of different rooms.
“At the Jacobs School it was nice to be open and faculty could easily move between areas to help out the participants,” she says.
Fung’s main responsibilities as course chair, along with Michael B. Ujiki, MD, of NorthShore University Health System in Evanston, Illinois, were to organize the course, ensure the lab runs smoothly, schedule the different lectures and speakers, organize skill stations and make sure there was enough industry support.
“The course itself is pretty standardized,” Fung says. “We added additional skills this year to keep up with the new technology and to make sure we present the most-up-to-date information.”
The 18 faculty members who were course instructors were Jacobs School faculty, as well as other faculty from across the country.
“Additional faculty members were SAGES members who are traditionally on the Flexible Endoscopy Committee and who specialize in these types of skills,” Fung says. “It exposes the fellows to not only just local faculty, but to national faculty as well for their expertise.”
Besides Fung, Jacobs School faculty involved in teaching the course were:
Schwaitzberg and Carroll M. Harmon, MD, John E. Fisher Chair in Pediatric Surgery, chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery and director of the pediatric surgery fellowship program, were on hand for portions of the course to oversee the proceedings in a supervisory capacity.