Comparative Analysis of the Functionality of Simulators of the da Vinci® Surgical Robot

Originally published in Surg Endosc., Apr 29, 2015

Smith R., Truong M., Perez M.

The implementation of robotic technology in minimally invasive surgery has led to the need to develop more efficient and effective training methods, as well as assessment and skill maintenance tools for surgical education. Multiple simulators and procedures are available for educational and training purposes. A need for comparative evaluations of these simulators exists to aid users in selecting an appropriate device for their purposes.

We conducted an objective review and comparison of the design and capabilities of all dedicated simulators of the da Vinci® robot, the da Vinci Skill Simulator (DVSS) (Intuitive Surgical, Inc., Sunnyvale, CA, USA), dV-Trainer (dVT) (Mimic Technologies, Inc., Seattle, WA, USA), and Robotic Surgery Simulator (RoSS) (Simulated Surgical Skills, LLC, Williamsville, NY, USA). This provides base specifications of the hardware and software, with an emphasis on the training capabilities of each system.

Each simulator contains a large number of training exercises, DVSS = 40, dVT = 65, and RoSS = 52 for skills development. All three offer 3D visual images but use different display technologies. The DVSS leverages the real robotic surgeon's console to provide visualization, hand controls, and foot pedals. The dVT and RoSS created simulated versions of all of these control systems. They include systems management services which allow instructors to collect, export, and analyze the scores of students using the simulators.

This study is the first to provide comparative information of the three simulators functional capabilities with an emphasis on their educational skills. They offer unique advantages and capabilities in training robotic surgeons. Each device has been the subject of multiple validation experiments which have been published in the literature. But those do not provide specific details on the capabilities of the simulators which are necessary for an understanding sufficient to select the one best suited for an organization's needs.

Click here for the study abstract