A Simulation Trainer for Complex Articular Fracture Surgery

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Abstract

Background:

The purposes of this study were (1) to develop a physical model to improve articular fracture reduction skills, (2) to develop objective assessment methods to evaluate these skills, and (3) to assess the construct validity of the simulation.

Methods:

A surgical simulation was staged utilizing surrogate tibial plafond fractures. Multiple three-segment radio-opacified polyurethane foam fracture models were produced from the same mold, ensuring uniform surgical complexity between trials. Using fluoroscopic guidance, five senior and seven junior orthopaedic residents reduced the fracture through a limited anterior window. The residents were assessed on the basis of time to completion, hand movements (tracked with use of a motion capture system), and quality of the obtained reduction.

Results:

All but three of the residents successfully reduced and fixed the fracture fragments (one senior resident and two junior residents completed the reduction but were unsuccessful in fixating all fragments). Senior residents had an average time to completion of 13.43 minutes, an average gross articular step-off of 3.00 mm, discrete hand motions of 540 actions, and a cumulative hand motion distance of 79 m. Junior residents had an average time to completion of 14.75 minutes, an average gross articular step-off of 3.09 mm, discrete hand motions of 511 actions, and a cumulative hand motion distance of 390 m.

Conclusions:

The large difference in cumulative hand motion distance, despite comparable numbers of discrete hand motion events, indicates that senior residents were more precise in their hand motions. The present experiment establishes the basic construct validity of the simulation trainer. Further studies are required to demonstrate that this laboratory-based model for articular fracture reduction training, along with an objective assessment of performance, can be used to improve resident surgical skills.

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