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2010 Annual Meeting Abstracts

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Surgical Skills on a Virtual Reality Simulator Do Not Correlate with Previous Experience with Other Manual Dexterity Activities
*Lucian Panait, *Jose M Larios, *Robert A Brenes, Michael S Ajemian, Stanley J. Dudrick, Juan A Sanchez
Saint Mary's Hospital, Waterbury, CT

Objective: Manual skill proficiency is currently not employed in the selection of surgical residents. We assessed surgical skills of applicants to a surgery residency program and correlated them with the applicants’ self-assessed quality of surgical skills and previous experience with other manual dexterity activities.
Design: Case-control study
Setting: Community hospital-based general surgery program
Participants: Forty-two applicants interviewed for general surgery residency (32 males, 9 females)
Interventions: Participants underwent manual skill testing on interview day. This involved performance of four laparoscopy tasks on a virtual reality (VR) laparoscopic simulator. Scores were computer-generated based on task completion time, instrument path length and errors.
Main Outcome Measures: A survey questionnaire was conducted assessing participants’ previous experience with video games, arts, musical instruments, surgical box trainers, VR simulators, or previous surgical internship. Applicants' perceived quality of own surgical skills was assessed on a Likert scale, and correlated with skill dexterity scores on the simulator. Scores were compared with a group of surgical residents, PGY 2-3 (n=4).
Results: Simulator scores of the applicants were significantly lower than those of mid-level surgical residents in three out of the four tasks (p<0.05). Male and female applicants had similar simulator scores. Previous participation in other manual dexterity activities or previous surgical internship were not associated with increased dexterity scores. The applicants’ perceived quality of surgical skills did not correlate with the VR simulator scores.
Conclusions: This study suggests that surgical dexterity levels do not correlate with the self-assessed skill levels or with previous experience with other manual dexterity activities. More studies are required to assess whether technical proficiency should be imbedded into the selection process for candidates to general surgery residency programs.

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