Surgical residents often use a laparoscopic camera in minimally invasive surgery for the first time in the operating room (OR) with no previous education or experience. Computer-based simulator training is increasingly used in residency programs. However, no randomized controlled study has compared the effect of simulator-based versus the traditional OR-based training of camera navigation skills.
This prospective randomized controlled study included 24 pregraduation medical students without any experience in camera navigation or simulators. After a baseline camera navigation test in the OR, participants were randomized to six structured simulator-based training sessions in the skills lab (SL group) or to the traditional training in the OR navigating the camera during six laparoscopic interventions (OR group). After training, the camera test was repeated. Videos of all tests (including of 14 experts) were rated by five blinded, independent experts according to a structured protocol.
The groups were well randomized and comparable. Both training groups significantly improved their camera navigational skills in regard to time to completion of the camera test (SL P = 0.049; OR P = 0.02) and correct organ visualization (P = 0.04; P = 0.03). Horizon alignment improved without reaching statistical significance (P = 0.20; P = 0.09). Although both groups spent an equal amount of actual time on camera navigation training (217 vs. 272 min, P = 0.20), the SL group spent significantly less overall time in the skill lab than the OR group spent in the operating room (302 vs. 1002 min, P < 0.01).
This is the first prospective randomized controlled study indicating that simulator-based training of camera navigation can be transferred to the OR using the traditional hands-on training as controls. In addition, simulator camera navigation training for laparoscopic surgery is as effective but more time efficient than traditional teaching.