Assessment of technical skills based on learning curve analyses in laparoscopic surgery training

Sem F. Hardon*, Leonie A. van Gastel, Tim Horeman, Freek Daams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Objective force- and motion-based assessment is currently lacking in laparoscopic skills curricula. This study aimed to evaluate the added value of parameter-based assessment and feedback during training. Methods: Laparoscopy-naïve surgical residents that took part in a 3-week skills training curriculum were included. A box trainer equipped with the ForceSense system was used for assessment of tissue manipulation- (MaxForce) and instrument-handling skills (Path length and Time). Learning curves were established using linear regression tests. Pre- and post-course comparisons indicated the overall progression and were compared to predefined proficiency levels. A post-course survey was carried out to assess face validity. Results: In total, 4,268 trials, executed by 24 residents, were successfully assessed. Median (interquartile range) MaxForce outcomes improved from 2.7 Newton (interquartile range 1.9–3.8) to 1.8 Newton (interquartile range 1.2–2.4) between pre- and post-course assessment (P ≤ .009). Instrument Path length improved from 7,102.2 mm (interquartile range 5,255.2–9,025.9) to 3,545.3 mm (interquartile range 2,842.9–4,563.2) (P ≤.001). Time to execute the task improved from 159.8 seconds (interquartile range 119.8–219.0) to 60.7 seconds (interquartile range 46.0–79.5) (P ≤ .001). The learning curves revealed during what training phase the proficiency benchmarks were reached for each trainee. In the survey outcomes, trainees indicated that this curriculum should be part of a surgical residency program (mean visual analog scale score of 9.2 ± 0.9 standard deviation). Conclusion: Force-, motion-, and time-parameters can be objectively measured during basic laparoscopic skills curricula and do indicate progression of skills over time. The ForceSense parameters enable curricula to be designed for specific proficiency-based training goals and offer the possibility for objective classification of the levels of expertise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-840
Number of pages10
JournalSurgery (United States)
Issue number3
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

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