The purpose of this study was to use a simulated virtual reality environment for training of surgical skills and then to identify if the learning that occurred was transferable to a real world surgical task. The virtual surgical tasks consisted of bimanual carrying, needle passing and mesh alignment. In this ongoing study, the experimental group (n = 5) was trained by performing four blocks of the virtual surgical tasks using the da Vinci surgical robot. Pre and post training, all subjects were tested by performing a suturing task on a “life-like” suture pad. The control group (n = 5) performed only the suturing task. Significantly larger pre and post differences were revealed in time to task completion (p < 0.05) and total distance travelled by the dominant side instrument tip (p < 0.01) in the experimental group as compared to the control group. These differences were specific to the suture running aspect of the surgical task. In conclusion, virtual reality surgical skills training may produce a significant learning effect that can transfer to actual robot-assisted laparoscopic procedures.
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