Objective: The objective of this study was to compare the effect of virtual reality simulation training plus robotic orientation versus robotic orientation alone on performance of surgical tasks using an inanimate model.
Methods: Surgical resident physicians were enrolled in this assessor-blinded randomized controlled trial. Residents were randomized to receive either (1) robotic virtual reality simulation training plus standard robotic orientation or (2) standard robotic orientation alone. Performance of surgical tasks was assessed at baseline and after the intervention. Nine of 33 modules from the da Vinci Skills Simulator were chosen. Experts in robotic surgery evaluated each resident’s videotaped performance of the inanimate model using the Global Rating Scale (GRS) and Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills—modified for robotic-assisted surgery (rOSATS).
Results: Nine resident physicians were enrolled in the simulation group and 9 in the control group. As a whole, participants improved their total time, time to incision, and suture time from baseline to repeat testing on the inanimate model (P = 0.001, 0.003, <0.001, respectively). Both groups improved their GRS and rOSATS scores significantly (both P < 0.001); however, the GRS overall pass rate was higher in the simulation group compared with the control group (89% vs 44%, P = 0.066).
Conclusions: Standard robotic orientation and/or robotic virtual reality simulation improve surgical skills on an inanimate model, although this may be a function of the initial “practice” on the inanimate model and repeat testing of a known task. However, robotic virtual reality simulation training increases GRS pass rates consistent with improved robotic technical skills learned in a virtual reality environment.