For robotic surgery training, a variety of approaches works best
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For robotic surgery training, a variety of approaches works best

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Varied teaching methods for robotic surgery delivered the best results for training surgeons, according to a new study from The Methodist Hospital and the University of Southern California, published in an upcoming issue of the British Journal of Urology International.

Three simulation environments, including virtual reality, inanimate tasks and in vivo training, were compared for the study.

“There is no validated or standardized curriculum in existence for training in basic robotic surgical skills,” said urological surgeon Alvin C. Goh, lead study author and director of robotic urological surgery programs at The Methodist Institute for Innovation Technology, and Education, in an announcement from The Methodist Hospital.

“To our knowledge, our study is the first in a single setting to simultaneously correlate the performance of expert and novice/trainee surgeons across inanimate, virtual reality and … in vivo platforms.”

In Goh’s group, 38 urological surgery residents and 11 expert surgeons participated in a “hands-on” laparoscopic and robotic training course, broken up into different levels, and performed exercises in all three methods, then assessed by a standardized tool.

New methods for robotic surgery training are a welcome advancement as robotic surgery continues to draw criticism. In April, a surgeon in Denver was charged with 14 counts of unprofessional conduct associated with the use of a hospital’s robotic surgery arm, and in March, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said robotic surgery for hysterectomies should not be used for women undergoing routine procedures.

The coauthors, in the announcement, suggested that “training across a broad range of environments may improve the efficiency of skill acquisition, but further investigation is ongoing to understand how standardized training can improve clinical outcomes.”

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