Objectives: Complex endovascular skills are difficult to obtain in the clinical environment. Virtual reality (VR) simulator training is a valuable addition to current training curricula, but is there a benefit in the absence of expert trainers?
Methods: Eighteen endovascular novices performed a renal artery angioplasty/stenting (RAS) on the Vascular Interventional Surgical Trainer simulator. They were randomized into three groups: Group A (n = 6, control), no performance feedback; Group B (n = 6, nonexpert feedback), feedback after every procedure from a nonexpert facilitator; and Group C (n = 6, expert feedback), feedback after every procedure from a consultant vascular surgeon. Each trainee completed RAS six times. Simulator-measured performance metrics included procedural and fluoroscopy time, contrast volume, accuracy of balloon placement, and handling errors. Clinical errors were also measured by blinded video assessment. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 15.
Results: A clear learning curve was observed across the six trials. There were no significant differences between the three groups for the general performance metrics, but Group C made fewer errors than Groups A (P = .009) or B (P = .004). Video-based error assessment showed that Groups B and C performed better than Group A (P = .002 and P = .000, respectively).
Conclusion: VR simulator training for novices can significantly improve general performance in the absence of expert trainers. Procedure-specific qualitative metrics are improved with expert feedback, but nonexpert facilitators can also enhance the quality of training and may represent a valuable alternative to expert clinical faculty.
Copyright © 2011 Society for Vascular Surgery. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.