Background: This study was carried out to validate the role of virtual reality computer simulation as a method of assessment of psychomotor skills in gastrointestinal endoscopy. We aimed to investigate whether the GI Mentor II computer system (Simbionix Ltd.) was able to differentiate between subjects with different experience with GI endoscopy.
Methods: Twenty-eight subjects were included in the study. They were divided into 3 groups according to their experience with GI endoscopy: experienced [group 1, performed > 200 endoscopic procedures, (n = 8)] residents [group 2, performed < 50 endoscopic procedures, (n = 10)] and medical students [group 3, never performed GI endoscopy, (n = 10)]. All participants received identical pretest instruction on the simulator. Assessment of endoscopic skills was performed during a simulated colonoscopy and was based on parameters measured by the computer system: time, percentage of mucosa surface examined, efficiency of screening, time with a clear view, excessive local pressure, pain, time with pain, loop formation, and total time with a loop.
Results: Significant differences in performance existed between surgeons in the 3 groups. Experienced surgeons demonstrated best performance parameters, followed by the residents and the medical students. Significant differences in time (Kruskal-Wallis test, P < 0.001), percentage of mucosa surface examined (P = 0.001), efficiency of screening (P = 0.001), time with a clear view (P = 0.001), pain experienced (P = 0.004), time with pain (P = 0.012), loop formation (P < 0.001), time with a loop (P < 0.001), and excessive local pressure (P = 0.001) were demonstrated. Significant differences existed between group 1 and 2 and 1 and 3 (Mann-Whitney test, P < 0.05). Differences between groups 2 and 3 did not reach statistical significance (P > 0.05).
Conclusions: The VR simulator was able to differentiate between subjects with different endoscopic experience. This indicates that the GI Mentor measures skills relevant for gastrointestinal endoscopy and can be used in training programs as an assessment tool.