Simulator-trained students gain experience equivalent to 20 to 50 real salpingectomies

June 12, 2009

Danish gynecology students trained in laparoscopic surgery using a virtual simulator scored substantially higher on a proficiency scale than those receiving standard clinical training, according to research published online May 14 in BMJ.

Danish gynecology students trained in laparoscopic surgery using a virtual simulator scored substantially higher on a proficiency scale than those receiving standard clinical training, according to research published online May 14 in BMJ.

Christian R. Larsen, MD, of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues recruited 24 graduate students from seven institutions, 21 of whom were randomized to receive training in laparoscopic salpingectomy using either a virtual reality simulator or standard clinical training. Each subject's proficiency was ranked on a 10- to 50-point scale by two observers who were blinded to the trainee and the training received. The duration of the laparoscopic procedure was a secondary outcome.

The researchers found that the subjects with simulator training had a median score of 33 (range, 32 to 36 points), while the standard training group had a median score of 23 (range, 22 to 27 points). The median procedure duration in the simulator group was 12 minutes (range, 10 to 14 minutes) and 24 minutes (range, 20 to 29 minutes) in the standard training group. The proficiency of the simulator group was judged equivalent to the experience of 20 to 50 laparoscopic procedures, compared to fewer than five procedures for the standard training group, the authors note.

“Skills in laparoscopic surgery can be increased in a clinically relevant manner using proficiency-based virtual reality simulator training. The performance level of novices was increased to that of intermediately experienced laparoscopists and operation time was halved,” the authors write.

Larsen CR, Soerensen J, Grantcharov TP, et al. Effect of virtual reality training on laparoscopic surgery: randomised controlled trial. BMJ 2009;338:b1802. doi:10.1136/bmj.b1802.