Randomized clinical trial of virtual reality simulation for laparoscopic skills training

Br J Surg. 2004 Feb;91(2):146-50. doi: 10.1002/bjs.4407.


Background: This study examined the impact of virtual reality (VR) surgical simulation on improvement of psychomotor skills relevant to the performance of laparoscopic cholecystectomy.

Methods: Sixteen surgical trainees performed a laparoscopic cholecystectomy on patients in the operating room (OR). The participants were then randomized to receive VR training (ten repetitions of all six tasks on the Minimally Invasive Surgical Trainer-Virtual Reality (MIST-VR)) or no training. Subsequently, all subjects performed a further laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the OR. Both operative procedures were recorded on videotape, and assessed by two independent and blinded observers using predefined objective criteria. Time to complete the procedure, error score and economy of movement score were assessed during the laparoscopic procedure in the OR.

Results: No differences in baseline variables were found between the two groups. Surgeons who received VR training performed laparoscopic cholecystectomy significantly faster than the control group (P=0.021). Furthermore, those who had VR training showed significantly greater improvement in error (P=0.003) and economy of movement (P=0.003) scores.

Conclusion: Surgeons who received VR simulator training showed significantly greater improvement in performance in the OR than those in the control group. VR surgical simulation is therefore a valid tool for training of laparoscopic psychomotor skills and could be incorporated into surgical training programmes.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cholecystectomy, Laparoscopic / standards*
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods*
  • Female
  • General Surgery / education*
  • General Surgery / standards
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Teaching / methods