A Pilot Study of Surgical Training Using a Virtual Robotic Surgery Simulator


originally published in the Journal of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons

Tergas AI, Sheth SB, Green IC, Giuntoli RL, Winder AD, Fader AN

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:   Our objectives were to compare the utility of learning a suturing task on the virtual reality da Vinci Skills Simulator versus the da Vinci Surgical System dry laboratory platform and to assess user satisfaction among novice robotic surgeons.

METHODS:   Medical trainees were enrolled prospectively; one group trained on the virtual reality simulator, and the other group trained on the da Vinci dry laboratory platform. Trainees received pretesting and post-testing on the dry laboratory platform. Participants then completed an anonymous online user experience and satisfaction survey.

RESULTS:   We enrolled 20 participants. Mean pretest completion times did not significantly differ between the 2 groups. Training with either platform was associated with a similar decrease in mean time to completion (simulator platform group, 64.9 seconds [P = .04]; dry laboratory platform group, 63.9 seconds [P < .01]). Most participants (58%) preferred the virtual reality platform. The majority found the training “definitely useful” in improving robotic surgical skills (mean, 4.6) and would attend future training sessions (mean, 4.5).

CONCLUSION:   Training on the virtual reality robotic simulator or the dry laboratory robotic surgery platform resulted in significant improvements in time to completion and economy of motion for novice robotic surgeons. Although there was a perception that both simulators improved performance, there was a preference for the virtual reality simulator. Benefits unique to the simulator platform include autonomy of use, computerized performance feedback, and ease of setup. These features may facilitate more efficient and sophisticated simulation training above that of the conventional dry laboratory platform, without loss of efficacy.

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