ABSTRACT: Validation study of a computer-based open surgical trainer: SimPraxis(®) simulation platform
Technological advances have dramatically changed medical education, particularly in the era of work-hour restrictions, which increasingly highlights a need for novel methods to teach surgical skills. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the validity of a novel, computer-based, interactive, cognitive simulator for training surgeons to perform pelvic lymph node dissection (PLND).
Eight prostate cancer experts evaluated the content of the simulator. Contextual aspects of the simulator were rated on a five-point Likert scale. The experts and nine first-year residents completed a simulated PLND. Time and deviations were logged, and the results were compared between experts and novices using the Mann-Whitney test.
Before training, 88% of the experts felt that a validated simulator would be useful for PLND training. After testing, 100% of the experts felt that it would be more useful than standard video training. Eighty-eight percent stated that they would like to see the simulator in the curriculum of residency programs and 56% thought it would be useful for accreditation purposes. The experts felt that the simulator aided in overall understanding, training indications, concepts and steps of the procedure, training how to use an assistant, and enhanced the knowledge of anatomy. Median performance times taken by experts and interns to complete a PLND procedure on the simulator were 12.62 and 23.97 minutes, respectively. Median deviation from the incorporated procedure pathway for experts was 24.5 and was 89 for novices.
We describe an interactive, computer-based simulator designed to assist in mastery of the cognitive steps of an open surgical procedure. This platform is intuitive and flexible, and could be applied to any stepwise medical procedure. Overall, experts outperformed novices in their performance on the trainer. Experts agreed that the content was acceptable, accurate, and representative.