Studies have suggested that operator proficiency has a substantial effect on complication rates and procedural outcomes. Endovascular simulators have been used for training and have been proposed as an alternative to the conventional assessment of skills. The present study sought to validate simulation as an objective method for proficiency evaluation in carotid artery stenting. Interventional cardiologists classified as novice, intermediate, or experienced practitioners performed 3 simulated, interactive carotid stenting cases on an AngioMentor endovascular simulator. An automated algorithm scored the participants according to the technical performance, medical management, and angiographic results. A total of 33 interventional cardiologists (8 novices, 15 intermediates, and 10 experts) completed 82 simulated procedures. The composite scores for the case simulations varied significantly by operator experience, with better scores for the more experienced groups (p <0.0001). The metrics that discriminated between operator experience groups included fluoroscopy time, crossing the carotid lesion with devices other than a 0.014-in. wire before filter deployment, and incomplete coverage of the lesion by the stent. In conclusion, the results of the present study validate that a simulator with an automated scoring system is able to discriminate between levels of operator proficiency for carotid artery stenting. Simulator-based performance assessment could have a role in initial and ongoing proficiency evaluations and credentialing of interventional operators of high-risk endovascular procedures.
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