A competency-based virtual reality training curriculum for the acquisition of laparoscopic psychomotor skill

Am J Surg. 2006 Jan;191(1):128-33. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2005.10.014.


Background: Studies have demonstrated the beneficial effect of training novice laparoscopic surgeons using virtual reality (VR) simulators, although there is still no consensus regarding an optimal VR training curriculum. This study aims to establish and validate a structured VR curriculum to provide an evidence-based approach for laparoscopic training programmes.

Methods: The minimally invasive VR simulator (MIST-VR) has 12 abstract laparoscopic tasks, each at 3 graduated levels of difficulty (easy, medium, and hard). Twenty medical students completed 2 sessions of all tasks at the easy level, 10 sessions at the medium level, and finally 5 sessions of the 2 most complex tasks at the hard level. At the medium level, subjects were randomized into 2 equal groups performing either all 12 tasks (group A) or the 2 most complex tasks (group B). Performance was measured by time taken, path length, and errors for each hand. The results were compared between groups, and to those of 10 experienced laparoscopic surgeons.

Results: Baseline performance of both groups was similar at the easy level. At the medium level, learning curves for all 3 parameters reached plateau at the second (group A, P < .05) and sixth (group B, P < .05) repetitions. Performance at the hard level was similar between the 2 groups, and all achieved the pre-set expert criteria.

Conclusion: A graduated laparoscopic training curriculum enables trainees to familiarise, train and be assessed on laparoscopic VR simulators. This study can aid the incorporation of VR simulation into established surgical training programmes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate
  • Educational Measurement
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy*
  • Male
  • Models, Educational
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / education
  • User-Computer Interface*