Objective psychomotor skills assessment of experienced, junior, and novice laparoscopists with virtual reality

A G Gallagher, K Richie, N McClure, J McGuigan
World Journal of Surgery 2001, 25 (11): 1478-83
Objective assessment of psychomotor skills in surgery is now a priority; however, this assessment is difficult to achieve because of measurement difficulties associated with the reliability and validity of assessing surgical skills in vivo and in the laboratory. In this study virtual reality (VR) was used to overcome these problems in the objective psychomotor assessment of senior, junior, and novice laparoscopists. Twelve experienced laparoscopic surgeons (performed >50 Minimal Access Surgery (MAS) procedures), 12 inexperienced laparoscopic surgeons (<10 MAS procedures), and 12 laparoscopic novices (no MAS procedures) participated in the study. Each subject completed all six tasks of the Minimally Invasive Surgical Trainer; Virtual Reality (MIST VR). In comparison to the other groups, experienced laparoscopic surgeons performed the tasks significantly (p < 0.01) faster, had a lower error rate, were more economic in their movement of surgical instruments and in the use of diathermy. As a group they also showed greater consistency in their performance. MIST VR distinguished between the three groups of laparoscopists. VR provides a useful objective assessment tool for evaluating psychomotor skills for laparoscopic surgery.

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