Background: Laparoscopic surgery requires a different set of skills than traditional open surgery. The acquisition of basic laparoscopic skills may help novices when learning laparoscopic procedures. This study tested the hypothesis that the combination of virtual reality and box trainers leads to better basic laparoscopic skill acquisition than either method alone or no training.
Methods: A randomized control trial involving preclinical medical students with no prior operative experience was performed. The students were grouped according to four training methods: virtual reality training, inanimate box training, a combination of both, and no training (control). The pre- and posttraining scores for four skills in the porcine laboratory were the metrics chosen for this study.
Results: A total of 65 students participated in this study. There were no differences among any of the pretraining scores (p > 0.05). The posttraining times differed between the four groups. Post hoc analyses showed statistically significant differences (p < 0.05) between the participants trained with both trainers and the control subjects.
Conclusions: Our data demonstrate that the combination of virtual reality training and inanimate box training leads to better laparoscopic skill acquisition than either training method alone or no training at all. Optimal preclinical laparoscopic training should incorporate both virtual reality trainers and inanimate box trainers.