How a Leading Professor of Vascular Surgery Uses Rods&Cones to Share Best Practice

xavier berard prof of vascular

Dr. Xavier Berard is a Vascular Surgeon, and since 2010 he’s been a Consultant in the Department of Vascular Surgery at the Bordeaux University Hospital. He’s also a Professor of Vascular Surgery at the University of Bordeaux.

Vascular surgeries address diseases affecting the vascular system including arteries, veins, and lymphatic vessels. It’s a highly specialized field involving lengthy, complex, and deep operations. Whilst there are many endovascular simulators on the market to teach angioplasty and (stent)graft implantation in vessels, globally there’s a lack of opportunities for training both trainees and qualified surgeons via live open vascular surgery, like aortic aneurysm repair.

One of the most effective methods of training is to record live surgery and share it with medical students and professionals, but that requires the right technology. Dr. Xavier Berard has tried several solutions and recently discovered the benefits of the Rods&Cones remote assistance service.


The Challenge

“With this device, you can record surgery and stream it, if needed. It’s a powerful tool for education.”

Dr. Xavier Berard, Professor of Vascular Surgery, University of Bordeaux

In France, as with many other countries around the world, there is a huge demand for training in open surgeries. The problem? A limited number of training centers to cater to large numbers of trainees. To take an example, France has approximately 70 million inhabitants and only 30 training centers – not all of which offer complex endovascular and open Vascular Surgery.

Furthermore, Vascular Surgery requires skills that cannot be taught adequately from a textbook. Without the capacity for trainees to see open surgery, they must rely on simulations to learn, which is not ideal for such intricate and complex procedures. This not only creates teaching issues but also opens up a huge skills gap between those with access to live surgery and those without.

Throughout Europe, the ratio between open and endovascular surgery is widening in Europe, physicians can struggle to find open surgery centers. The US has a similar problem and a huge need for an alternative solution. So what’s the answer?

From his extensive academic experience as a Professor of Vascular Surgery, Dr. Xavier Berard sees real educational value in recorded surgeries and live streams. The challenge is that Vascular Surgery can take 3 to 5 hours – which is a long time to be onscreen and a long time for students or trainees to watch. In his view, the best way to educate is through a 20 to a 30-minute format, which could either be edited footage or a section of a particular procedure. However, this means the surgery must be recorded and edited to make it relevant to students.


The Solution

“In my practice, in open abdomen surgery, it’s very deep and sometimes only the surgeon can see what happens. The way to capture it – is this kind of device.”

Dr. Xavier Berard, Professor of Vascular Surgery, University of Bordeaux

In his time as a professor, and a leading surgeon, Dr. Berard has also tried various technologies and approaches to create high definition (HD) video training content for his students. He’s tried action cameras and smartphones, as well as combinations of both – but always seems to run into difficulties such as low-battery life in HD mode.

Not only that, but these devices also need adapting for the operating room (OR) environment. Whilst ‘pro’ smartphones with high-quality cameras produce the quality footage required, they also need an operator other than the surgeon. This means viewers get an ‘over-the-shoulder perspective’ as they would when standing beside the surgeon in the OR.

The best thing for educators is a surgeon’s eye view of the operation using immersive, easy-to-use technology. This is especially true for Vascular Surgery, which is often deep and difficult to see for anyone other than the surgeon. HD video is also essential to enable zooming and editing. When non-HD video becomes pixelated – it loses value as an educational tool. Sometimes it’s also necessary for surgeons to step back and have a discussion with an assistant. Wearable technology allows you to do this.

So when Dr. Berard spotted a LinkedIn post about Rods&Cones devices being used in other types of surgery, outside his field of expertise, he made inquiries and managed to get a hold of the Rods&Cones remote assistance service.


The Impact

Rods&Cones’ visOR-V works for any type of surgery, but Dr. Berard was one of the first surgeons to use it for Vascular Surgery. Immediately, it gave him the surgical vision he needed to share his expertise with a broader audience and, as a result, the hospital has connected the staff room with the OR.

In the first few months of using the technology, Dr. Berard ran internal courses with fellows and residents from the university. He also welcomed colleagues from different parts of France who sat in on surgeries remotely from the staff room. With built-in security, it’s easy to comply with data privacy regulations, and protect patient identity, especially as recorded cases are easily deleted.

As he builds a library of educational video content, amidst growing demand from medical professionals, it’s becoming more obvious that there’s a future in creating and sharing educational content using Rods&Cones technologies to improve surgical training and, ultimately, patient outcomes.

In his role as an educator, Dr. Berard sees the potential of applying remote assistance technology on a global scale, for continuous education on new techniques (or in some parts of the world lost expertise), refresher courses, and trainees anywhere in the world. He also sees it as a viable means of educating more OR nurses at a time when there’s a nursing shortage.

To find out how Rods&Cones could help improve surgical training in your hospital, book a demo.


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