The aim of this study was to compare learning curves for laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) after training on a proficiency based virtual reality (VR) curriculum with that of a traditionally trained group.Summary Background Data:
Simulator-based training has been shown to improve technical performance during real laparoscopic procedures, although research to date has not proven the persistence of this effect over subsequent cases.Material and Methods:
Twenty novice surgeons underwent baseline laparoscopic skills testing followed by a 1-day didactic training session. Control subjects (n = 10) performed 5 cadaveric porcine LCs each; VR-trained subjects (n = 10) completed a VR training curriculum followed by 3 porcine LCs each. A further 10 experienced laparoscopic surgeons (>100 LCs) performed 2 porcine LCs each to define benchmark levels. Technical skill assessment was by motion analysis and video-based global rating scores (out of 35).Results:
There were no intergroup differences in baseline skill. The first LC revealed significant differences between control and VR groups for time (median 4590 seconds vs. 2165 seconds, P = 0.038), path length (169.2 meters vs. 86.8 meters, P = 0.009), number of movements (2446 vs. 1029, P = 0.009), and video scores (17 vs. 25, P = 0.001). The VR group, although not a control, achieved video and dexterity scores equivalent to expert levels of performance.Conclusions:
A proficiency based VR training curriculum shortens the learning curve on real laparoscopic procedures when compared with traditional training methods. This may be a more cost- and time-effective approach, and supports the need for simulator-based practice to be integrated into surgical training programs.