Background: Changes in medical practice have constrained the time available for education and the availability of patients for training. Computer-based simulators have been devised that can be used to achieve manual skills without patient contact. This study prospectively compared, in a clinical setting, the efficacy of a computer-based simulator for training in upper endoscopy.
Methods: Twenty-two fellows with no experience in endoscopy were randomly assigned to two groups: one group underwent 10 hours of preclinical training with a computer-based simulator, and the other did not. Each trainee performed upper endoscopy in 19 or 20 patients. Performance parameters evaluated included the following: esophageal intubation, procedure duration and completeness, and request for assistance. The performance of the trainees also was evaluated by the endoscopy instructor.
Results: A total of 420 upper endoscopies were performed; the computer pretrained group performed 212 and the non-pretrained group, 208. The pretrained group performed more complete procedures (87.8% vs. 70.0%; p < 0.0001), required less assistance (41.3% vs. 97.9%; p < 0.0001), and the instructor assessed performance as "positive" more often for this group (86.8% vs. 56.7%; p < 0.0001). The length of procedures was comparable for the two groups.
Conclusions: The computer-based simulator is effective in providing novice trainees with the skills needed for identification of anatomical landmarks and basic endoscopic maneuvers, and in reducing the need for assistance by instructors.