Background: While energy devices are ubiquitous in the operating room, they remain poorly understood and can result in significant complications. The purpose of this study was to estimate the extent to which adding a novel bench-top component improves learning of SAGES' Fundamental Use of Surgical Energy™ (FUSE) electrosurgery curriculum among surgical trainees.
Methods: Surgical residents participated in a 1-h didactic electrosurgery (ES) course, based on the FUSE curriculum. They were then randomized to one of two groups: an unstructured hands-on session where trainees used ES devices (control group) or a goal-directed hands-on training session (Sim group). Pre- and post-curriculum (immediate and at 3 months) assessments included knowledge of ES (multiple-choice examination), self-perceived competence for each of the 35 course objectives (questionnaire), and self-perceived comfort with performance of seven tasks related to safe use of ES. Data expressed as median[interquartile range], *p < 0.05.
Results: 56 (29 control; 27 Sim) surgical trainees completed the curriculum and assessments. Baseline characteristics, including pre-curriculum exam and questionnaire scores, were similar. Total score on the exam improved from 46%[40;54] to 84%[77;91]* for the entire cohort, with higher immediate post-curriculum scores in the Sim group compared to controls (89%[83;94] vs. 83%[71;86]*). At 3 months, performance on the exam declined in both groups, but remained higher in the Sim group (77%[69;90] vs 60%[51;80]*). Participants in both groups reported feeling greater comfort and competence post-curriculum (immediate and at 3 months) compared to baseline. This improvement was greater in the Sim group with a higher proportion feeling "Very Comfortable" or "Fully Competent" (Sim: 3/7 tasks and 28/35 objectives; control: 0/7 tasks and 10/35 objectives).
Conclusions: A FUSE-based curriculum improved surgical trainees' knowledge and comfort in the safe use of electrosurgical devices. The addition of a structured interactive bench-top simulation component further improved learning and retention at 3 months.