Background: Increasing time and resource constraints, and the potential for patient complications, has led to an emphasis on finding innovative ways to teach catheter-based procedures outside of the laboratory. Virtual reality (VR) simulator training has been proposed as a potential training solution. We report on the initial validation of a full procedural VR simulator for carotid angiography (CA) using the Vascular Interventional System Trainer (VIST).
Methods: In all, 100 experienced physicians, currently performing endovascular procedures (71 cardiologists, 29 surgeons, and one radiologist), underwent simulator based training in CA. Each operator completed three VR simulated CAs, and assessed the VIST VR simulator for both its face and content validity.
Results: Assessment involved how the carotid procedure simulation looked and felt as well as how catheters behaved during the completion of the CA. Assessment was rated on a five-point Likert scale. Anatomically, physicians reported that the aortic arch and carotid vasculature were well simulated (mean = 4.4). However, the bony structures and intra-cranial vasculature correlated poorly with actual anatomic structures (means = 2.3 and 1.1, respectively). One-to-one haptic correspondence of catheters during psychomotor movements were felt to be strongly representative of live procedures. The simulated sequence of using guidewires and catheters was rated to be nearly identical to actual CA (means = 4.8).
Conclusions: VIST represents one of the most sophisticated VR simulators in medicine. Physicians reported that it looked, felt, and behaved similar to working on an actual patient. Future work is required to validate whether this simulator will improve catheter performance on actual patients.