The purpose of this study was to validate a complex robotic surgical task, mesh alignment, in virtual reality. Nine subjects unrolled and aligned a mesh onto an inanimate template for the mesh alignment task in both an actual (the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System) and a virtual environment. Data analysis included time to task completion, distance traveled, and speed, of the surgical instrument, as well as electromyography of the extensors and flexors of the dominant arm of the subject. Paired t-tests were used to compare the dependent variables between the actual and virtual environments. The virtual mesh alignment task was statistically similar for all variables except the flexor activity as compared to the actual task. In conclusion, virtual reality could be used as an effective environment to train the next generation of robot-assisted laparoscopic surgeons.
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