Background: The first step toward increasing the level of patient safety in endoscopic surgery is for all endoscopic surgeons to acquire fundamental skills, including psychomotor skills, in the preoperation stage of training. The current study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of virtual reality (VR) simulator training and box training for training the fundamental skills of endoscopic surgery.
Methods: For this study, 35 medical students at Kyushu University were divided into three groups: simulator (SIM) group (n = 20), box trainer (BOX) group (n = 20), and control group (n = 15). None of the students had any experience assisting with endoscopic surgery or any previous training for endoscopic surgery. The students in the SIM group underwent training using a VR simulator, the Procedicus MIST, 2 h per day for 2 days. The students in the BOX group underwent training using a box trainer 2 h per day for 2 days. The students in the control group watched an educational video for 30 min. The endoscopic surgical skills of all the students were evaluated before and after training with a task of suturing and knot tying using a box trainer.
Results: Although no significant differences were found between the three groups in the total time taken to complete the evaluation task before training, there were significant improvements in the SIM and BOX groups after training compared with the control group. Box training increased errors during the task, but simulator training did not.
Conclusion: The findings showed that box training and VR training have different outcomes. The authors expect that the best curriculum for their training center would involve a combination that uses the merits of both methods.