A total of 10 experienced (>50 LAs), eight intermediate (10–30 LAs) and 20 inexperienced (<10 LAs) operators performed guided and unguided LA tasks on a high-fidelity VR simulator using internationally relevant techniques. The ability to differentiate levels of experience (construct validity) was measured using simulator-derived metrics. Learning curves were analysed. Proficiency benchmarks were defined by the performance of the experienced group. Intermediate and experienced participants completed a questionnaire to evaluate the realism (face validity) and relevance (content validity).
Of 18 surgeons, 16 (89%) considered the VR model to be visually realistic and 17 (95%) believed that it was representative of actual practice. All ‘guided’ modules demonstrated construct validity (P < 0.05), with learning curves that plateaued between sessions 6 and 9 (P < 0.01). When comparing inexperienced to intermediates to experienced, the ‘unguided’ LA module demonstrated construct validity for economy of motion (5.00 versus 7.17 versus 7.84, respectively; P < 0.01) and task time (864.5 s versus 477.2 s versus 352.1 s, respectively, P < 0.01). Construct validity was also confirmed for number of movements, path length and idle time. Validated modules were used for curriculum construction, with proficiency benchmarks used as performance goals.
A VR LA model was realistic and representative of actual practice and was validated as a training and assessment tool. Consequently, the first evidence-based internationally applicable training curriculum for LA was constructed, which facilitates skill acquisition to proficiency.
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