Background: Within minimally invasive surgery (MIS), structural implementation of courses and structured assessment of skills are challenged by availability of trainers, time, and money. We aimed to establish and validate an objective measurement tool for preclinical skills acquisition in a basic laparoscopic at-home training program. Methods: A mobile laparoscopic simulator was equipped with a state-of-the-art force, motion, and time tracking system (ForceSense, MediShield B.V., Delft, the Netherlands). These performance parameters respectively representing tissue manipulation and instrument handling were continuously tracked during every trial. Proficiency levels were set by clinical experts for six different training tasks. Resident’s acquisition and development of fundamental skills were evaluated by comparing pre- and post-course assessment measurements and OSATS forms. A questionnaire was distributed to determine face and content validity. Results: Out of 1842 captured attempts by novices, 1594 successful trials were evaluated. A decrease in maximum exerted absolute force was shown in comparison of four training tasks (p ≤ 0.023). Three of the six comparisons also showed lower mean forces during tissue manipulation (p ≤ 0.024). Lower instrument handling outcomes (i.e., time and motion parameters) were observed in five tasks (resp. (p ≤ 0.019) and (p ≤ 0.025)). Simultaneously, all OSATS scores increased (p ≤ 0.028). Proficiency levels for all tasks can be reached in 2 weeks of at home training. Conclusions: Monitoring force, motion, and time parameters during training showed to be effective in determining acquisition and development of basic laparoscopic tissue manipulation and instrument handling skills. Therefore, we were able to gain insight into the amount of training needed to reach certain levels of competence. Skills improved after sufficient amount of training at home. Questionnaire outcomes indicated that skills and self-confidence improved and that this training should therefore be part of the regular residency training program.
Hardon, S. F., Horeman, T., Bonjer, H. J., & Meijerink, W. J. H. J. (2018). Force-based learning curve tracking in fundamental laparoscopic skills training. Surgical Endoscopy, 32(8), 3609-3621. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00464-018-6090-7