Background: Developing technical skill is essential to surgical training, but using the operating room for basic skill acquisition may be inefficient and expensive, especially for laparoscopic operations. This study determines if laparoscopic skills training using simulated tasks on a video-trainer improves the operative performance of surgery residents.
Study design: Second- and third-year residents (n= 27) were prospectively randomized to receive formal laparoscopic skills training or to a control group. At baseline, residents had a validated global assessment of their ability to perform a laparoscopic cholecystectomy based on direct observation by three evaluators who were blinded to the residents' randomization status. Residents were also tested on five standardized video-trainer tasks. The training group practiced the video-trainer tasks as a group for 30 minutes daily for 10 days. The control group received no formal training. All residents repeated the video-trainer test and underwent a second global assessment by the same three blinded evaluators at the end of the 1-month rotation. Within-person improvement was determined; improvement was adjusted for differences in baseline performance.
Results: Five residents were unable to participate because of scheduling problems; 9 residents in the training group and 13 residents in the control group completed the study. Baseline laparoscopic experience, video-trainer scores, and global assessments were not significantly different between the two groups. The training group on average practiced the video-trainer tasks 138 times (range 94 to 171 times); the control group did not practice any task. The trained group achieved significantly greater adjusted improvement in video-trainer scores (five of five tasks) and global assessments (four of eight criteria) over the course of the four-week curriculum, compared with controls.
Conclusions: Intense training improves video-eye-hand skills and translates into improved operative performance for junior surgery residents. Surgical curricula should contain laparoscopic skills training.