EC - Information Society Technologies Program - Project VOEU

Virtual Orthopedic European University


Prof. Ph. Cinquin, Ph.D.,M.D.
Université Joseph Fourier Grenoble, France
Institut Albert Bonniot


Project No.: IST-1999-13079

Background and Motivation

Today, theoretical and practical experiences in diagnosis and therapy in orthopaedics are learned during studies and continuous educational programs by traditional lectures, textbooks, journals, internships and hands-on workshops. For practical education and training an experienced surgeon advises his student or junior surgeon and supervises and corrects if necessary. However, a medical student or junior surgeon might be rarely or even never confronted with rare diseases or emerging therapy approaches. Moreover, for low case numbers single clinical centres only can derive statistically secure data and experiences on the basis of long term studies which might be sometimes difficult to conduct due to organisational as well as financial problems.
In contrast, the rapidly evolving technical development of therapy techniques, such as computer assisted surgery technology, requires more and more efficient standards for evaluation and quality assurance in order to enable the medical community to adequately assess and control this evolution. Experiences and case data have to be collected and processed much faster and on a broader basis and have to be instantaneously provided for ongoing clinical research as well as (if appropriate) for continuing education.
Furthermore, a great variation of educationand therapy approaches throughout Europe has to be taken into account. The related experiences have to be exchanged and matched more and more in the context of an European harmonisation.
Regarding the practical skills of a surgeon e.g. concerning new surgical techniques (such as arthroscopic or computer assisted surgery methods) the need for more quantitative evaluation and quality assurance methods has been discussed. In this context, a need for standardised and cost effective training systems has been identified, too.
Concerning these issues, the traditional system of education and training could potentially be supported by new multimedia computer and internet based approaches and technologiesConcerning these issues, the traditional system of education and training could potentially be supported by new multimedia computer and internet based approaches and technologies.

Developmental elements and objectives

In the framework of the EC-project VOEU ("Virtual Orthopaedic European University", IST-1999-13079) medical experts, university research institutions and specific professional associations from different European countries are co-operating concerning related components:

  • Together with the clinical partners multimedia educational modules for exemplary topic such as knee and shoulder arthroscopy, spine surgery, pelvic traumatology, as well as hip surgery will be elaborated. Apart from conventional therapy procedures we are especially addressing topics of computer assisted surgical techniques.
  • Training simulators with visual, acoustic as well as optional haptic feedback for specific aspects of surgical planning and execution especially concerning computer assisted surgical techniques are under development.
  • Moreover, the set-up of an internet based database ("Virtual Observatory") for a standardised multi-centric case-based documentation of clinical experiences with new therapeutic techniques is a further topic of the project work. Apart from the evaluation of new surgical techniques, this collection of anonymised multimedia case data can be used for clinical studies on various research issues. In this context it has to be emphasised, that, in contrast to the american "Visible Human Project", this database will provide large numbers of real cases and information on real pathologic anatomies. This will be of much higher clinical interest especially due to the fact, that it will provide a potentially high statistical significance concerning research on specific clinical issues.

Multimedia Educational Orthopedic Module

"Virtual Observatory"- clinical case database