Background: For total hip arthroplasty (THA), cognitive training prior to performing real surgery may be an effective adjunct alongside simulation to shorten the learning curve. This study sought to create a cognitive training tool (CTT) to perform anterior approach (AA)-THA, which was validated by expert surgeons, and test its use as a training tool compared with conventional material.
Methods: We employed a modified Delphi method with 4 expert surgeons from 3 international centers of excellence. Surgeons were independently observed performing THA before undergoing semistructured cognitive task analysis (CTA) and before completing successive rounds of surveys until a consensus was reached. Thirty-six surgical residents (postgraduate year [PGY]-1 through PGY-4) were randomized to cognitive training or training with a standard operation manual with surgical videos before performing a simulated AA-THA.
Results: The consensus CTA defined THA in 11 phases, in which were embedded 46 basic steps, 36 decision points, and 42 critical errors and linked strategies. This CTA was mapped onto an open-access web-based CTT. Surgeons who prepared with the CTT performed a simulated THA 35% more quickly (time, mean 28 versus 38 minutes) with 69% fewer errors in instrument selection (mean 29 versus 49 instances), and required 92% fewer prompts (mean 13 versus 25 instances). They were more accurate in acetabular cup orientation (inclination error, mean 8° versus 10°; anteversion error, mean 14° versus 22°).
Conclusions: This validated CTT for arthroplasty provides structure for competency-based learning. It is more effective at preparing orthopaedic trainees for a complex procedure than conventional materials, as well as for learning sequence, instrumentation utilization, and motor skills.
Clinical relevance: Cognitive training combines education on decision-making, knowledge, and technical skill. It is an inexpensive technique to teach surgeons to perform hip arthroplasty and is more effective than current preparation methods.