Tuggy ML. Virtual reality flexible sigmoidoscopy simulator training: impact on resident performance. J Am Board Fam Pract. 1998 Nov-Dec;11(6):426-33

PMID: 9875997


Flexible sigmoidoscopy, a core skill for the primary care physician, requires learned hand-eye skills that can be difficult to master during residency training. With recent advances in virtual reality simulation technology, simulated flexible sigmoidoscopes are available to family medicine residents for training before their initial and subsequent live patient examinations. The purpose of the study was to determine whether a virtual reality flexible sigmoidoscope simulator would improve the hand-eye skills and various performance parameters in a live patient.
Residents were assigned to a control (n = 5) or experimental group (n = 5) in which the experimental group trained on a virtual reality sigmoidoscopy simulator before their first sigmoidoscopies on live patient volunteers. After the initial live patient sigmoidoscopies, both control and experimental groups trained on the simulator so that it was possible to evaluate presimulator and postsimulator training effects on live patient performance and to compare speed and skill between the groups at different levels of training.
Training on the virtual reality simulator produced substantial improvements in examination times and hand-eye skill measures. After 6 to 10 hours of training on the simulator, the experimental group achieved significantly faster insertion times to 30 cm (119 versus 357 sec, P = 0.03), 40 cm (211 versus 518 sec, P = 0.03), and a shorter mean length of examination (323 versus 654 sec, P = 0.01). There was also significant improvement of hand-eye skill measures of the experimental group in directional errors (1.6 versus. 8.6, P < 0.01), percentage of colon visualized (79 versus 45 percent, P = 0.02), and viewing quality of examination when compared with the control group's initial performance on live patients. Resident survey findings after the study confirmed the trainee's perception of the benefit of the simulator training.
This study shows the value of virtual reality simulator training for accelerating the development of the hand-eye skills to perform adequate sigmoidoscopy.