Correlating virtual reality and box trainer tasks in the assessment of laparoscopic surgical skills

Jordan Newmark, Vani Dandolu, Richard Milner, Harsh Grewal, Sean Harbison, Enrique Hernandez
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2007, 197 (5): 546.e1-4

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine the correlation in the assessment of laparoscopic surgical skills in medical students with the use of a virtual reality laparoscopic trainer and a low-fidelity video box trainer with comparative tasks.

STUDY DESIGN: Third-year medical students were asked to perform 3 basic skills set modules on LapSim (Surgical Science, Gothenburg, Sweden): coordination, grasping and lifting, and handling the intestines. Each task was set at the easiest level, and each student was allowed a maximum of 10 attempts to complete each task. Similar-appearing tasks were chosen for comparison with the use of a standard video box trainer: pegboard, cup drop and rope pass, respectively. Laparoscopic skills were evaluated with the use of both trainers during 1 session. Pearson's correlation coefficients were used to compare paired data on each student using statistical software.

RESULTS: Forty-seven of 65 medical students were assigned to clinical clerkships on-campus at Temple University School of Medicine participated in the study. All 47 students participated in the video box trainer tasks; 34 students completed both the video box trainer and LapSim skills set. Observations that were obtained on the LapSim virtual reality system and video box trainer simulator demonstrated several correlations. The time to completion for the LapSim coordination task and the pegboard task were correlated (r = 0.507; P = .006), as were the grasping and lifting task completion time on LapSim and the comparative box trainer cup drop task completion time (r = 0.404; P = .022). When accounting for errors, the LapSim coordination task tissue damage score was correlated with the sum of all box trainer errors (r = 0.353; P = .040); the average grasping and lifting tissue damage was correlated with the total number of errors during all box trainer tasks (r = 0.374; P = .035).

CONCLUSION: Overall, in evaluating laparoscopic skills, the LapSim and video box trainer were correlated positively with one another. The scoring of laparoscopic skills by both systems appears to be equivalent for the measurement of time to task completion and number of errors.

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