Performance curve of basic skills in single-incision laparoscopy versus conventional laparoscopy: is it really more difficult for the novice?

Surg Endosc. 2012 May;26(5):1231-7. doi: 10.1007/s00464-011-2041-2. Epub 2011 Nov 20.


Background: Single-incision laparoscopy is a step forward toward nearly scarless surgery. Concern has been raised that single-incision laparoscopy is technically more challenging than conventional laparoscopy. This study researched the performance curves of novice trainees for single-incision laparoscopy (SILS) versus conventional laparoscopy for performing two basic tasks on a box trainer.

Methods: In this study, 20 novice participants performed two tasks (peg transfer and a dissection task) on a standard box trainer. All the participants practiced each task 11 times and were randomized in two groups. The first group performed the tasks on a box trainer through three incisions. The second group used a single-incision access with the same box trainer. The assessment scores for errors and time were recorded. The 2nd, 8th, and 11th runs of both tasks in both settings were assessed to objectify the gain in basic laparoscopic skills.

Results: The performance curves for both groups improved significantly in terms of both time and errors in performing the two tasks [P < 0.01, analysis of variance (ANOVA)]. For the first task, no significant difference in time between the two groups was observed at the top of the performance curve (mean, 212 ± 64 vs. 182 ± 48 s), but the SILS group performed with fewer errors (1.3 ± 1.5 vs. 2.7 ± 2.11). However, the difference was not significant (P = 0.10). The dissection task was performed faster in the SILS group (mean, 205 ± 78 vs. 243 ± 40 s; P = 0, 18) with fewer errors (0.7 ± 1.05 vs. 1.9 ± 2.1; P = 0. 12), but the difference was not significant.

Conclusion: This study showed a significant improvement in basic skills for both the SILS and conventional laparoscopy settings after 11 repetitions. These data suggest that box training shows no significant difference between conventional laparoscopic and single-incision laparoscopic settings in terms of error or time in performing basic tasks at a low complexity level for the novice. These data also show significant improvement in basic skills over a relatively short period.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Dissection / education
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Laparoscopy / education
  • Laparoscopy / standards*
  • Learning Curve
  • Male
  • Teaching Materials
  • Young Adult