Objectives: Surgical simulation has been shown to enhance the training of general surgery residents. Since catheter-based techniques have become an important part of the vascular surgeon's armamentarium, we explored whether simulation might impact the acquisition of catheter skills by surgical residents.
Methods: Twenty general surgery residents received didactic training in the techniques of catheter intervention. Residents were then randomized with 10 receiving additional training with the Procedicus, computer-based, haptic simulator. All 20 residents then participated in 2 consecutive mentored catheter-based interventions for lower extremity occlusive disease in an OR/angiography suite. Resident performance was graded by attending surgeons blinded to the resident's training status, using 18 procedural steps as well as a global rating scale.
Results: There were no differences between the 2 resident groups with regard to demographics or scores on a visuospatial test administered at study outset. Overall, residents exposed to simulation scored higher than controls during the first angio/OR intervention: procedural steps (simulation/control) (50 +/- 6 vs. 33 +/- 9, P = 0.0015); global rating scale (30 +/- 7 vs. 19 +/- 5, P = 0.0052). The advantage provided by simulator training persisted with the second intervention (53 +/- 6 vs. 36 +/- 7, P = 0.0006); global rating scale (33 +/- 6 vs. 21 +/- 6, P = 0.0015). Moreover, simulation training, particularly for the second intervention, led to enhancement in almost all of the individual measures of performance.
Conclusion: Simulation is a valid tool for instructing surgical residents and fellows in basic endovascular techniques and should be incorporated into surgical training programs. Moreover, simulators may also benefit the large number of vascular surgeons who seek retraining in catheter-based intervention.