Background: The development of computerized surgical simulators in a virtual reality environment demands models for proper validation. Recent investigations have shown that a virtual reality simulator (MIST-VR) is a reliable tool for the assessment of laparoscopic psychomotor skills and that it improves the automation of the so-called fulcrum effect. Therefore, we set out to determine whether training with the MIST-VR would improve the surgical performance of surgically inexperienced medical students and to see if results obtained in the simulator would correlate with surgical performance.
Methods: A total of 29 medical students were randomized into two groups. One group received preoperative MIST-VR training. Both groups then performed a simulated laparoscopic appendectomy in a pig. The operations were videotaped and examined by three independent observers.
Results: There was no significant difference in performance between the two groups. The performance with the MIST-VR correlated with the results in surgery.
Conclusion: A method that can measure surgical skill, based on the scoring of independent observers who view videotaped performances, seems to be reliable. MIST-VR did not improve the surgical skills of the subjects, but the results with MIST-VR did predict surgical outcome.