Computer-assisted surgery simulations and directed practice of total knee arthroplasty: educational benefits to the trainee

Comput Aided Surg. 2012;17(3):113-27. doi: 10.3109/10929088.2012.671365.


Orthopaedic residents typically learn to perform total knee arthroplasty (TKA) through an apprenticeship-type model, which is a necessarily slow process. Surgical skills courses, using artificial bones, have been shown to improve technical and cognitive skills significantly within a couple of days. The addition of computer-assisted surgery (CAS) simulations challenges the participants to consider the same task in a different context, promoting cognitive flexibility. We designed a hands-on educational intervention for junior residents with a conventional tibiofemoral TKA station, two different tibiofemoral CAS stations, and a CAS and conventional patellar resection station, including both qualitative and quantitative analyses. Qualitatively, structured interviews before and after the course were analyzed for recurring themes. Quantitatively, subjects were evaluated on their technical skills before and after the course, and on a multiple-choice knowledge test and error detection test after the course, in comparison to senior residents who performed only the testing. Four themes emerged: confidence, awareness, deepening knowledge and changed perspectives. The residents' attitudes to CAS changed from negative before the course to neutral or positive afterwards. The junior resident group completed 23% of tasks in the pre-course skills test and 75% of tasks on the post-test (p<0.01), compared to 45% of tasks completed by the senior resident group. High-impact educational interventions, promoting cognitive flexibility, would benefit trainees, attending surgeons, the healthcare system and patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alberta
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip / education*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip / methods
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Cognition
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Educational Status
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Learning
  • Orthopedics / education*
  • Orthopedics / methods
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Report
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted*
  • Teaching