Background: Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) is a complex endeavor involving both motor and cognitive skills. Current training requires extended time in the clinical setting. Application of an integrated approach for TEE training including simulation could facilitate acquisition of skills and knowledge.
Methods: Echo-naive nonattending anesthesia physicians were offered Web-based echo didactics and biweekly hands-on sessions with a TEE simulator for 4 weeks. Manual skills were assessed weekly with kinematic analysis of TEE probe motion and compared with that of experts. Simulator-acquired skills were assessed clinically with the performance of intraoperative TEE examinations after training. Data were presented as median (interquartile range).
Results: The manual skills of 18 trainees were evaluated with kinematic analysis. Peak movements and path length were found to be independent predictors of proficiency (P < 0.01) by multiple regression analysis. Week 1 trainees had longer path length (637 mm [312 to 1,210]) than that of experts (349 mm [179 to 516]); P < 0.01. Week 1 trainees also had more peak movements (17 [9 to 29]) than that of experts (8 [2 to 12]); P < 0.01. Skills acquired from simulator training were assessed clinically with eight additional trainees during intraoperative TEE examinations. Compared with the experts, novice trainees required more time (199 s [193 to 208] vs. 87 s [83 to 16]; P = 0.002) and performed more transitions throughout the examination (43 [36 to 53] vs. 21 [20 to 23]; P = 0.004).
Conclusions: A simulation-based TEE curriculum can teach knowledge and technical skills to echo-naive learners. Kinematic measures can objectively evaluate the progression of manual TEE skills.