Background: Energy devices can result in devastating complications to patients. Yet, they remain poorly understood by trainees and surgeons. A single-institution pilot study suggested that structured simulation improves knowledge of the safe use of electrosurgery (ES) among trainees (Madani et al. in Surg Endosc 28(10):2772-2782, 2014). The purpose of this study was to estimate the extent to which the addition of this structured bench-top simulation improves ES knowledge across multiple surgical training programs.
Methods: Trainees from 11 residency programs in Canada, the USA and UK participated in a 1-h didactic ES course, based on SAGES' Fundamental Use of Surgical Energy™ (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 (immediately and 3 months after) knowledge of the safe use of ES was assessed using separate examinations. Data are expressed as mean (SD) and N (%), *p < 0.05.
Results: A total of 289 (145 control; 144 Sim) trainees participated, with 186 (96 control; 90 Sim) completing the 3-month assessment. Baseline characteristics were similar between the two groups. Total score on the examination improved from 46% (10) to 84% (10)* for the entire cohort, with higher post-curriculum scores in the Sim group compared with controls [86% (9) vs. 83% (10)*]. All scores declined after 3 months, but remained higher in the Sim group [72% (18) vs. 64% (15)*]. Independent predictors of 3-month score included pre-curriculum score and participation in a goal-directed simulation.
Conclusions: This multi-institutional study confirms that a 2-h curriculum based on the FUSE program improves surgical trainees' knowledge in the safe use of ES devices across training programs with various geographic locations and resident volumes. The addition of a structured interactive bench-top simulation component further improved learning.
Keywords: Curriculum; Education; Electrosurgery; Energy device; FUSE; Simulation.