Surgery Tutor for Computational Assessment of Technical Proficiency in Soft-Tissue Tumor Resection in a Simulated Setting

J Surg Educ. May-Jun 2019;76(3):872-880. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2018.11.005. Epub 2018 Dec 17.


Background: In competency-based medical education, progression between milestones requires reliable and valid methods of assessment. Surgery Tutor is an open-source motion tracking platform developed to objectively assess technical proficiency during open soft-tissue tumor resections in a simulated setting. The objective of our study was to provide evidence in support of construct validity of the scores obtained by Surgery Tutor. We hypothesized that Surgery Tutor would discriminate between novice, intermediate, and experienced operators.

Methods: Thirty participants were assigned to novice, intermediate, or experienced groups, based on the number of prior soft-tissue resections performed. Each participant resected 2 palpable and 2 nonpalpable lesions from a soft-tissue phantom. Surgery Tutor was used to track hand and instrument motions, number of tumor breaches, and time to perform each resection. Mass of excised specimens and margin status were also recorded.

Results: Surgery Tutor scores demonstrated "moderate" to "good" internal structure (test-retest reliability) for novice, intermediate, and experienced groups (interclass correlation coefficient = 0.596, 0.569, 0.737; p < 0.001). Evidence in support of construct validity (consequences) was demonstrated by comparing scores of novice, intermediate, and experienced participantsfor number of hand and instrument motions (690 ± 190, 597 ± 169, 469 ± 110; p < 0.001), number of tumor breaches (29 ± 34, 16 ± 11, 9 ± 6; p < 0.001), time per resection (677 ± 331 seconds, 561 ± 210 seconds, 449 ± 148 seconds; p < 0.001), mass of completely excised specimens (22 ± 7g, 21 ± 11g, 17 ± 6 g; p = 0.035), and rate of positive margin (68%, 50%, 28%; p < 0.001). There was "strong" and "moderate" relationships between motion scores and Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skill scores, and time per resection and Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skill scores respectively (r = -0.60, p < 0.001; r = -0.54, p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Surgery Tutor scores demonstrate evidenceof construct validity with regards to good internal structure, consequences, and relationship to other variables in the assessment of technical proficiency duringopen soft-tissue tumor resections in a simulated setting. Utilization of Surgery Tutor can provide formative feedback and objective assessment of surgical proficiency in a simulated setting.

Keywords: Practice-Based Learning and Improvement; computer-based assessment; medical education; objective assessment; surgical education; technical skills.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Competency-Based Education
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods*
  • Educational Measurement / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Ontario
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Simulation Training / methods*
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / surgery