Bringing the skills laboratory home: an affordable webcam-based personal trainer for developing laparoscopic skills

J Surg Educ. 2011 Mar-Apr;68(2):105-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2010.09.014. Epub 2010 Nov 24.


Objective: The purpose of this work was to develop a more flexible system of laparoscopic surgery training with demonstrated effectiveness and construct validity.

Hypotheses: A personal, portable, durable laparoscopic trainer can be designed at low cost. The evaluation of expert surgeons on this device will reveal technical superiority over novices. With practice, novice surgeons can improve their performance significantly as measured by scores derived from performing skills with this training device.

Design: Prospective trial with observation and intervention components. The first aspect was observational comparison of novice and expert performance. The second was a prospective static-group comparison with pretest/posttest single-sample design.

Setting: Tertiary-care academic medical center with affiliated general surgery residency.

Participants: A total of 21 junior surgical residents and 5 experienced operators.

Main outcome measures: Performance was assessed by the 5 tasks in the McGill Inanimate System for Training and Evaluation of Laparoscopic Skills (MISTELS): pegboard transfer, pattern cutting, placement of ligating loop, extracorporeal knotting, and intracorporeal knotting. Each task was assessed for accuracy and speed.

Results: Expert surgeons scored significantly higher than novices on total score and 4 of the 5 MISTELS tasks (peg transfer, pattern cut, extracorporeal knot, and intracorporeal knot). After 4 months of home-based training, the novices improved in total score and 3 of the 5 tasks (peg transfer, pattern cut, and extracorporeal knot).

Conclusions: A low-cost personal laparoscopic training device can be built by individual residents. With their use, residents can significantly improve performance in important surgical skills. Evaluation of the system supports its validity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / trends
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Internship and Residency / standards
  • Internship and Residency / trends
  • Laboratories
  • Laparoscopy / education*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Task Performance and Analysis