Laparoscopic surgical skills are significantly improved by the use of a portable laparoscopic simulator: results of a randomized controlled trial

World J Surg. 2013 May;37(5):957-64. doi: 10.1007/s00268-013-1945-5.


Background: There is growing evidence that training on virtual reality simulators leads to improved performance in the animate and human operating room. However, they are expensive, have a limited availability, and involve complex systems. Portable simulators are significantly cheaper, more user-friendly, and are flexible systems that are more suited to a surgical trainee's busy schedule. The use of portable surgical simulators to train skills and reduce errors has never been evaluated in prospective, randomized clinical settings. The objective of this study was to determine if training on the portable Integrated Laparoscopic Simulator leads to improved performance of core laparoscopic skills.

Methods: Core laparoscopic skills were identified by five experienced laparoscopic surgeons and modeled into two exercises and three basic tasks. Twenty surgically naive medical students had baseline laparoscopic skills assessed on a fixed simulator. Participants were randomized to either 14 h training on a portable laparoscopic simulator over a 3 week period, or control with no training. At 3 weeks two expert laparoscopic surgeons blinded to the allocation of participants assessed their pre- and post-intervention performances recorded on a CD-ROM. The outcome measures included time to complete and global rating scores of clipping and dissection tasks.

Results: No differences were observed in baseline skills level between the two groups. The intervention group had better quality of scissors dissection (p = 0.0038) and improved clipping skills (p = 0.0051), and they took less time to accomplish the tasks (p = 0.0099) in comparison to control.

Conclusions: Training on the portable Integrated Laparoscopic Simulator significantly improved core laparoscopic skills in medical students with no prior experience.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Delphi Technique
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy / education*
  • Male
  • Models, Educational*
  • United Kingdom
  • User-Computer Interface