Ten hours of simulator training in arthroscopy are insufficient to reach the target level based on the Diagnostic Arthroscopic Skill Score

AuthorAnetzberger H, Reppenhagen S, Eickhoff H, Seibert FJ, Döring B, Haasters F, Mohr M, Becker R.


Simulator arthroscopy training has gained popularity in recent years. However, it remains unclear what level of competency surgeons may achieve in what time frame using virtual training. It was hypothesized that 10 h of training would be sufficient to reach the target level defined by experts based on the Diagnostic Arthroscopic Skill Score (DASS).


The training concept was developed by ten instructors affiliated with the German-speaking Society of Arthroscopy and Joint Surgery (AGA). The programme teaches the basics of performing arthroscopy; the main focus is on learning and practicing manual skills using a simulator. The training was based on a structured programme of exercises designed to help users reach defined learning goals. Initially, camera posture, horizon adjustment and control of the direction of view were taught in a virtual room. Based on these skills, further training was performed with a knee model. The learning progress was assessed by quantifying the exercise time, camera path length and instrument path length for selected tasks. At the end of the course, the learners' performance in diagnostic arthroscopy was evaluated using DASS. Participants were classified as novice or competent based on the number of arthroscopies performed prior to the assessment.


Except for one surgeon, 131 orthopaedic residents and surgeons (29 women, 102 men) who participated in the seven courses agreed to anonymous data analysis. Fifty-eight of them were competents with more than ten independently performed arthroscopies, and 73 were novices, with fewer than ten independently performed arthroscopies. There were significant reductions in exercise time, camera path length and instrument path length for all participants after the training, indicating a rapid increase in performance. No difference in camera handling between the dominant and non-dominant sides was found in either group. The competents performed better than the novices in various tasks and achieved significantly better DASS values on the final performance test.


Our data have demonstrated that arthroscopic skills can be taught effectively on a simulator, but a 10-h course is not sufficient to reach the target level set by experienced arthroscopists. However, learning progress can be monitored more objectively during simulator training than in the operating room, and simulation may partially replace the current practice of arthroscopic training.

Level of evidence