Liu 2015


originally published in Teach Learn Med

May Liu, Myriam Curet

PHENOMENON:   Virtual reality simulators are the subject of several recent studies of skills training for robot-assisted surgery. Yet no consensus exists regarding what a core skill set comprises or how to measure skill performance. Defining a core skill set and relevant metrics would help surgical educators evaluate different simulators.

APPROACH:   This review draws from published research to propose a core technical skill set for using the da Vinci surgeon console. Publications on three commercial simulators were used to evaluate the simulators’ content addressing these skills and associated metrics.

FINDINGS:   An analysis of published research suggests that a core technical skill set for operating the surgeon console includes bimanual wristed manipulation, camera control, master clutching to manage hand position, use of third instrument arm, activating energy sources, appropriate depth perception, and awareness of forces applied by instruments. Validity studies of three commercial virtual reality simulators for robot-assisted surgery suggest that all three have comparable content and metrics. However, none have comprehensive content and metrics for all core skills. INSIGHTS: Virtual reality simulation remains a promising tool to support skill training for robot-assisted surgery, yet existing commercial simulator content is inadequate for performing and assessing a comprehensive basic skill set. The results of this evaluation help identify opportunities and challenges that exist for future developments in virtual reality simulation for robot-assisted surgery. Specifically, the inclusion of educational experts in the development cycle alongside clinical and technological experts is recommended.

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