Developing microsurgical milestones for psychomotor skills in neurological surgery residents as an adjunct to operative training: the home microsurgery laboratory

J Neurosurg. 2020 Sep 4;1-11. doi: 10.3171/2020.5.JNS201590. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Objective: A variety of factors contribute to an increasingly challenging environment for neurological surgery residents to develop psychomotor skills in microsurgical technique solely from operative training. While adjunct training modalities such as cadaver dissection and surgical simulation are embraced and practiced at our institution, there are no formal educational milestones defined to help residents develop, measure, and advance their microsurgical psychomotor skills in a stepwise fashion when outside the hospital environment. The objective of this report is to describe an efficient and convenient "home microsurgery lab" (HML) assembled and tested by the authors with the goal of supporting a personalized stepwise advancement of microsurgical psychomotor skills.

Methods: The authors reviewed the literature on previously published simulation practice models and designed adjunct learning modules utilizing the HML. Five milestones were developed for achieving proficiency with each graduated exercise, referencing the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) guidelines. The HML setup was then piloted with 2 neurosurgical trainees.

Results: The total cost for assembling the HML was approximately $850. Techniques for which training was provided included microinstrument handling, tissue dissection, suturing, and microanastomoses. Five designated competency levels were developed, and training exercises were proposed for each competency level.

Conclusions: The HML offers a unique, entirely home-based, affordable adjunct to the operative neurosurgical education mandated by the ACGME operative case logs, while respecting resident hospital-based education hours. The HML provides surgical simulation with specific milestones, which may improve confidence and the microsurgical psychomotor skills required to perform microsurgery, regardless of case type.

Keywords: ABNS = American Board of Neurological Surgery; ACGME = Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education; ACGME milestones; AVM = arteriovenous malformation; HML = home microsurgery lab; MCA = middle cerebral artery; NOMAT = Northwestern Objective Microanastomosis Assessment Tool; PGY = postgraduate year; PVA = polyvinyl alcohol; STA = superficial temporal artery; adjunct training; bAVM = brain AVM; education; home lab; microsurgery; neurosurgical resident training; psychomotor skills.

Publication types

  • Review