Background: Several studies have investigated the transfer of surgical trainees' skills acquired on surgical simulators to the operating room setting. The purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness of two laparoscopic surgery simulators by assessing the transfer of skills learned on simulators to closely matched surgical tasks in the animal laboratory.
Study design: In this post-test-only Control group study design, 46 surgically naive medical student volunteers were randomly assigned to one of three groups: Tower Trainer group (n = 16), LapSim group (n = 17), and Control group (n = 13). Outcomes measures included both time and accuracy scores on three laparoscopic tasks (Task 1: Grasp and Place; Task 2: Run the Bowel; Task 3: Clip and Cut) performed on live anesthetized pigs, and a global rating of overall performance as judged by four experienced surgeons.
Results: The Tower Trainer group performed significantly better than the Control group on 1 of 7 outcomes measures-Task 3: Time (p < 0.032), although the LapSim group performed significantly better than the Control group on 2 of 7 measures-Task 3: Time (p < 0.008) and Global score (p < 0.005). In comparing the two simulators, the LapSim group performed significantly better than the Tower Trainer group on 3 of 7 outcomes measures-Task 2: Time (p < 0.032), Task 2: Accuracy (p < 0.030) and Global score (p < 0.005), although the Tower Trainer group did not perform significantly better than the LapSim group on any measure.
Conclusions: This study demonstrated that naive subjects trained on a virtual-reality part-task trainer performed better on live surgical tasks in a porcine model as compared with those trained with a traditional box trainer. These findings could aid in selection of appropriate training methodologies.