Simulation-Based Percutaneous Renal Access Training: Evaluating a Novel 3D Immersive Virtual Reality Platform

J Endourol. 2021 May;35(5):695-699. doi: 10.1089/end.2020.0674. Epub 2021 Jan 29.


Introduction: Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) is the gold standard treatment for patients with a large stone burden. There are a variety of methods to teach this important endourologic procedure, including simulation. We evaluated three different PCNL simulation platforms for potential use in teaching and assessing percutaneous renal access skills. Materials and Methods: Urology residents, fellows, and faculty were recruited to participate in this study, which included completing standardized tasks on three PCNL simulation platforms: a virtual reality (VR) simulator (PercMentor, 3D Systems™), a porcine tissue simulator (Cook™ Medical), and a new 3D immersive VR simulator-Marion K181 (Marion Surgical™). Participants were asked to complete a standardized task-gaining prone percutaneous renal access using a fluoroscopic-guided technique. Participants were asked to rate the simulators, and performance data were recorded for analysis. Results: A total of 18 participants with varying levels of PCNL experience completed the study. The Marion K181 had higher ratings by participants in all domains (realism, tactile feedback, instrument movement, renal anatomy, fidelity of simulation, utility as teaching tool) compared with the PercMentor (p < 0.05) but did not differ in any domain when compared with the porcine PCNL model. Participants felt that the Marion K181 was comparable with the porcine PCNL model as a teaching tool, but had the advantage of not requiring radiation exposure. Fluoroscopy time was the variable that most consistently correlated with participant PCNL experience and level of training, across all three PCNL simulation platforms. Conclusions: There are a variety of PCNL simulation platforms available for teaching percutaneous renal access skills. Based on our initial comparative study, there is validity evidence to support the use of the novel Marion K181 PCNL simulator as a training tool rather than higher fidelity models requiring real radiation exposure. However, evidence is yet lacking for its use as an assessment tool.

Keywords: education; percutaneous nephrolithotomy; simulation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Competence
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Nephrolithotomy, Percutaneous*
  • Simulation Training*
  • Swine
  • Virtual Reality*