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Robotic Surgery Simulation Validity and Usability Comparative Analysis

originally published in the Surg Endosc

Tanaka A, Graddy C, Simpson K, Perez M, Truong M, Smith R

BACKGROUND:
The introduction of simulation into minimally invasive robotic surgery is relatively recent and has seen rapid advancement; therefore, a need exists to develop training curriculums and identify systems that will be most effective at training surgical skills. Several simulators have been introduced to support these aims-the daVinci® Skills Simulator, Mimic dV-Trainer®,  Simulated Surgical Systems' RoSS™, and Simbionix Robotix Mentor™. While multiple studies have been conducted to demonstrate the validity of these systems, studies comparing the perceived value of these devices as tools for education and skills are lacking.

METHODS:
Subjects, who qualified as medical students or physicians (n = 105), were assigned a specific order to use each of the three simulators. After completing a demographic questionnaire, participants performed one exercise on the three simulators and completed a second questionnaire regarding their experience with the device. After using all systems, they completed a final questionnaire, which detailed their comparative preferences. The subject's performance metrics were also collected from each simulator.

RESULTS:
The data confirmed the face, content, and construct validity for the dV-trainer and Skills Simulator. Similar validities could not be confirmed for the RoSS. >80 % of the time, participants chose the Skills Simulator in terms of physical comfort, ergonomics, and overall choice. However, only 55 % thought the Skills Simulator was worth the cost of the equipment. The dV-Trainer had the highest cost preference scores with 71 % of respondents feeling it was worth the investment.

CONCLUSION:
Usability can affect the consistency and commitment of users of robotic surgical simulators. In a previous study, these simulators were objectively reviewed and compared in terms of their system capabilities. Collectively, this work will offer end-users and potential buyers a comparison of the perceived value and preferences of robotic simulators.

Click here for the study abstract