Purpose: To compare the learning of endovascular interventional skills by training on pig models versus virtual reality simulators.
Methods: Twelve endovascular novices participated in a study consisting of a pig laboratory (P-Lab) and a virtual reality laboratory (VR-Lab). Subjects were stratified by experience and randomized into four training groups. Following 1 hr of didactic instruction, all attempted an iliac artery stenosis (IAS) revascularization in both laboratories. Onsite proctors evaluated performances using task-specific checklists and global rating scales, yielding a Total Score. Participants completed two training sessions of 3 hr each, using their group's assigned method (P-Lab x 2, P-Lab + VR-Lab, VR-Lab + P-Lab, or VR-Lab x 2) and were re-evaluated in both laboratories. A panel of two highly experienced interventional radiologists performed assessments from video recordings. ANCOVA analysis of Total Score against years of surgical, interventional radiology (IR) experience and cumulative number of P-Lab or VR-Lab sessions was conducted. Inter-rater reliability (IRR) was determined by comparing proctored scores with the video assessors in only the VR-Lab.
Results: VR-Lab sessions improved the VR-Lab Total Score (beta = 3.029, p = 0.0015) and P-Lab Total Score (beta = 1.814, p = 0.0452). P-Lab sessions increased the P-Lab Total Score (beta = 4.074, p < 0.0001) but had no effect on the VR-Lab Total Score. In the general statistical model, both P-Lab sessions (beta = 2.552, p = 0.0010) and VR-Lab sessions (beta = 2.435, p = 0.0032) significantly improved Total Score. Neither previous surgical experience nor IR experience predicted Total Score. VR-Lab scores were consistently higher than the P-Lab scores (Delta = 6.659, p < 0.0001). VR-Lab IRR was substantial (r = 0.649, p < 0.0008).
Conclusions: Endovascular skills learned in the virtual environment may be transferable to the real catheterization laboratory as modeled in the P-Lab.