Background: The study aim was to compare the effectiveness of virtual reality and computer-enhanced videoscopic training devices for training novice surgeons in complex laparoscopic skills.
Methods: Third-year medical students received instruction on laparoscopic intracorporeal suturing and knot tying and then underwent a pretraining assessment of the task using a live porcine model. Students were then randomized to objectives-based training on either the virtual reality (n=8) or computer-enhanced (n=8) training devices for 4 weeks, after which the assessment was repeated.
Results: Posttraining performance had improved compared with pretraining performance in both task completion rate (94% versus 18%; P<0.001*) and time [181+/-58 (SD) versus 292+/-24*]. Performance of the 2 groups was comparable before and after training. Of the subjects, 88% thought that haptic cues were important in simulators. Both groups agreed that their respective training systems were effective teaching tools, but computer-enhanced device trainees were more likely to rate their training as representative of reality (P<0.01).
Conclusions: Training on virtual reality and computer-enhanced devices had equivalent effects on skills improvement in novices. Despite the perception that haptic feedback is important in laparoscopic simulation training, its absence in the virtual reality device did not impede acquisition of skill.