Virtual reality as a metric for the assessment of laparoscopic psychomotor skills. Learning curves and reliability measures

A G Gallagher, R M Satava
Surgical Endoscopy 2002, 16 (12): 1746-52

BACKGROUND: The objective assessment of the psychomotor skills of surgeons is now a priority; however, this is a difficult task because of measurement difficulties associated with the assessment of surgery in vivo. In this study, virtual reality (VR) was used to overcome these problems.

METHODS: Twelve experienced (>50 minimal-access procedures), 12 inexperienced laparoscopic surgeons (<10 minimal-access procedures), and 12 laparoscopic novices participated in the study. Each subject completed 10 trials on the Minimally Invasive Surgical Trainer; Virtual Reality (MIST VR).

RESULTS: Experienced laparoscopic surgeons performed the tasks significantly (p < 0.01) faster, with less error, more economy in the movement of instruments and the use of diathermy, and with greater consistency in performance. The standardized coefficient alpha for performance measures ranged from a = 0.89 to 0.98, showing high internal measurement consistency. Test-retest reliability ranged from r = 0.96 to r = 0.5.

CONCLUSION: VR is a useful tool for evaluating the psychomotor skills needed to perform laparoscopic surgery.

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