Simulators 'make surgeons better'

Should simulation training replace part of the clinical training? This question is debated all over the world while ongoing studies are looking to find out whether this is the right way to go.

Danish researchers have examined the effect of virtual reality training on an actual laparascopic operation. They put 24 obstetrics and gynaecology registrars specializing in gynaecology and obstetrics in two groups - one which had the traditional training of working alongside doctors and tutoring, and another which supplemented this with seven hours simulator training. Afterwards both groups were assessed on technical performance and operation time in minutes.

Results

The researchers found that in the simulation group, the performance level of novices was increased to that of intermediately experienced laparascopists ( 20-50 operations) and that operation time was halved. Perfomance level in the control group however corresponded to experience gained from less than five operations.   

In light of these findings, lead researcher Christian Rifbjerg Larsen said to the BBC NEWS that "Simulator training should be incorporated into the curriculum for all surgical trainees before they embark on patient procedures'' and further that "this can potentially improve patient safety and improve operation room efficiency."

Research article with video on virtual reality simulations in BMJ.