Lessons Taught by a Knee Arthroscopy Simulator About Participants in a European Arthroscopy Training Programme

AuthorBaumann Q, Hardy A, Courage O, Lacombes P, Accadbled F; European Paediatric Orthopaedic Society Sports Study Group; Junior French Arthroscopic Society.


Arthroscopy simulators offer safe and reproducible training to orthopaedic residents, thereby obviating the need for cadaver specimens. In addition, they collect data that can serve to investigate learning curves and evaluate training programmes with the goal of improving the quality of arthroscopy teaching. In this study, a cohort of surgeons was evaluated before and after a European theoretical and practical training programme that used a knee arthroscopy simulator. The primary objective was to assess whether the overall performance score was improved by the training programme. The secondary objectives were to determine which tasks and skills were improved by the programme, to compare a novice group to an experienced group, and to identify targets for improvement.


A theoretical and practical training course improves the scores achieved on an arthroscopy simulator task.


A prospective comparative study was performed in 34 surgeons during the advanced arthroscopy training course organised by the European Paediatric Orthopaedic Society (EPOS) in January 2018. All participants performed a diagnostic task on the VirtaMed ArthroS™ simulator before and after the programme. The participants were divided into two groups based on number of knee arthroscopies performed each year, i.e., > 20 (experienced group) vs. ≤ 20 (inexperienced group). The following parameters were compared between the two groups: overall score, operative time, percentage of iatrogenic injuries, camera and hook path lengths, and success in identifying anatomical structures.


The overall score on the diagnostic task was 199 before and 203 after the training programme (p = 0.02). The operative time decreased significantly, from 185 to 115.9 seconds (p < 0.01). Camera path length decreased from 85.2 to 49.2 cm and hook path length from 65.5 to 15.0 cm (p < 0.05). The mean proportion of arthroscopies with iatrogenic tibial cartilage injuries diminished from 2.7% ± 1.7% (range, 0–6.7) to 1.8% ± 1.8% (range, 0–7) (p = 0.03); no change occurred in femoral injuries. When each group was assessed separately, the only significant change found in the experienced group was a decrease in operative time, whereas in the inexperienced group all parameters improved significantly. However, visualisation of anatomical structures was unchanged.


Participation in the training programme improved overall performance, and the gains were greatest in the inexperienced group. During the post-training evaluation, some of the major anatomical structures were classified by the simulator as incompletely visualised, raising concern about a risk of underdiagnosis during arthroscopic explorations.