Predictors of laparoscopic simulation performance among practicing obstetrician gynecologists

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BACKGROUND:While simulation training has been established as an effective method for improving laparoscopic surgical performance in surgical residents, few studies have focused on its use for attending surgeons, particularly in obstetrics and gynecology. Surgical simulation may have a role in improving and maintaining proficiency in the operating room for practicing obstetrician gynecologists.OBJECTIVE:We sought to determine if parameters of performance for validated laparoscopic virtual simulation tasks correlate with surgical volume and characteristics of practicing obstetricians and gynecologists.STUDY DESIGN:All gynecologists with laparoscopic privileges (n = 347) from 5 academic medical centers in New York City were required to complete a laparoscopic surgery simulation assessment. The physicians took a presimulation survey gathering physician self-reported characteristics and then performed 3 basic skills tasks (enforced peg transfer, lifting/grasping, and cutting) on the LapSim virtual reality laparoscopic simulator (Surgical Science Ltd, Gothenburg, Sweden). The association between simulation outcome scores (time, efficiency, and errors) and self-rated clinical skills measures (self-rated laparoscopic skill score or surgical volume category) were examined with regression models.RESULTS:The average number of laparoscopic procedures per month was a significant predictor of total time on all 3 tasks (P = .001 for peg transfer; P = .041 for lifting and grasping; P < .001 for cutting). Average monthly laparoscopic surgical volume was a significant predictor of 2 efficiency scores in peg transfer, and all 4 efficiency scores in cutting (P = .001 to P = .015). Surgical volume was a significant predictor of errors in lifting/grasping and cutting (P < .001 for both). Self-rated laparoscopic skill level was a significant predictor of total time in all 3 tasks (P < .0001 for peg transfer; P = .009 for lifting and grasping; P < .001 for cutting) and a significant predictor of nearly all efficiency scores and errors scores in all 3 tasks.CONCLUSION:In addition to total time, there was at least 1 other objective performance measure that significantly correlated with surgical volume for each of the 3 tasks. Higher-volume physicians and those with fellowship training were more confident in their laparoscopic skills. By determining simulation performance as it correlates to active physician practice, further studies may help assess skill and individualize training to maintain skill levels as case volumes fluctuate.

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