Pretraining of basic skills on a virtual reality vitreoretinal simulator: A waste of time

Acta Ophthalmol. 2022 Aug;100(5):e1074-e1079. doi: 10.1111/aos.15039. Epub 2021 Oct 5.


Purpose: To investigate whether pretraining of basic skills in virtual vitreoretinal surgery affected the performance curve when proceeding to procedure-specific modules.

Methods: This study was a prospective, randomized, controlled, two-centre study. Medical students were randomized into two groups: Group 1 pretrained basic psycho-motor skills (Navigation Training level 2 and Bimanual Training level 3) until they reached their performance curve plateau. Hereafter, both groups trained on the procedure-specific modules (Posterior Hyaloid level 3 and ILM Peeling level 3) until they reached their performance curve plateau. Plateau was defined as three consecutive sessions with the same score with an acceptable variation. The primary outcome was time used to reach performance curve plateau in the procedure-specific modules.

Results: A total of 68 medical students were included, and equally randomized into two groups. The participants in Group 1 used a median time of 88 minutes to reach plateau in the basic skills modules but did not differ from Group 2 in time to reach plateau on the procedure-specific modules (183 min versus 210 min, p = 0.40) or in the amplitude of plateau. Group 1 and 2 differed significantly in the starting score of ILM peeling level 3 (0 (0-0) versus 3.5 (0-75), p = 0.03).

Conclusion: We were not able to show positive skill transfer from basic skills training to the procedure-specific modules in time, starting score or amplitude of plateau. Thus, we recommend that aspiring vitreoretinal surgeons proceed directly to simulation-based training of procedures instead of spending valuable training time on basic skills training.

Keywords: Simulation-based training; assessment; basic skills training; procedural training; transfer of skill; virtual reality; vitreoretinal surgery.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Simulation Training* / methods
  • User-Computer Interface
  • Virtual Reality*

Grant support