Lehmann KS, Gröne J, Lauscher JC, Ritz JP, Holmer C, Pohlen U, Buhr HJ. Simulationstraining in der Weiterbildung - Einsatz von virtuellen laparoskopischen Operationssimulatoren in einem chirurgischen Trainingskurs [Simulation training in surgical education - application of virtual reality laparoscopic simulators in a surgical. Zentralbl Chir. 2012 Apr;137(2):130-7

PMID: 22495487


[Article in German]

Background: Training and simulation are gaining importance in surgical education. Today, virtual reality surgery simulators provide sophisticated laparoscopic training scenarios and offer detailed assessment methods. This also makes simulators interesting for the application in surgical skills courses. The aim of the current study was to assess the suitability of a virtual surgery simulator for training and assessment in an established surgical training course.

Materials and methods: The study was conducted during the annual "Practical Course for Visceral Surgery" (Warnemuende, Germany). 36 of 108 course participants were assigned at random for the study. Training was conducted in 15 sessions over 5 days with 4 identical virtual surgery simulators (LapSim) and 2 standardised training tasks. The simulator measured 16 individual parameters and calculated 2 scores. Questionnaires were used to assess the test persons' laparoscopic experience, their training situation and the acceptance of the simulator training. Data were analysed with non-parametric tests. A subgroup analysis for laparoscopic experience was conducted in order to assess the simulator's construct validity and assessment capabilities.

Results: Median age was 32 (27 - 41) years; median professional experience was 3 (1 - 11) years. Typical laparoscopic learning curves with initial significant improvements and a subsequent plateau phase were measured over 5 days. The individual training sessions exhibited a rhythmic variability in the training results. A shorter night's sleep led to a marked drop in performance. The participants' different experience levels could clearly be discriminated ( ≤ 20 vs. > 20 laparoscopic operations; p ≤ 0.001). The questionnaire showed that the majority of the participants had limited training opportunities in their hospitals. The simulator training was very well accepted. However, the participants severely misjudged the real costs of the simulators that were used.

Conclusions: The learning curve on the simulator was successfully mastered during the course. Construct validity could be demonstrated within the course setting. The simulator's assessment system can be of value for the assessment of laparoscopic training performance within surgical skills courses. Acceptance of the simulator training is high. However, simulators are currently too expensive to be used within a large training course.