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Pure science, no fiction: All VirtaMed simulators validated by medical research

March 29, 2016
A virtual reality surgical simulator can look good, save money and boost your image. However, none of that means anything if the simulator doesn’t do what it was built to do: prepare practitioners for real-life medical procedures. That’s why validation studies are so important, and that’s why we’re so proud to say that all our simulators have been validated by the medical community. Three recent studies evaluated the HystSim™, PelvicSim™ and ArthroS™ Shoulder simulators.

Fresh physicians need to learn a set of technical skills before entering the operating room, and they need to be able to trust themselves when they face that first case; even experienced practitioners may feel uncomfortable with an unfamiliar procedure. Surgical simulators want to help doctors with these issues, and validation studies in turn evaluate just how successful the simulators are.

In general, simulation training has been evaluated in many studies and found to be a useful educational tool. For example in laparoscopy various simulation courses have already been integrated into standard training. However, in disciplines like hysteroscopy and office gynecology, or the entire field of orthopedics, simulation training is only starting to break through.

ESGE, EBCOG, EAGS, ENTOG, ACOG and AAGL, the leading organizations in gynecological minimal invasive surgery, have called for more endoscopic training before entering the operating room. On the other hand, the growing popularity of intra-uterine devices (IUD) increases the need for trained IUD providers. Two recent studies set their focus on these fields: Neis et al took a closer look at the VirtaMed HystSim™ hysteroscopy simulator, while Dodge et al studied the benefits of the VirtaMed PelvicSim™ for IUD placement.

Researchers: HystSim™ should be integrated in the training curriculum

In their study titled “Evaluation of the HystSim™-virtual reality trainer: an essential additional tool to train hysteroscopic skills outside the operation theater” (March 2016), Neis et al trained 39 clinical professionals on the VirtaMed HystSim™ simulator with the Simball interface. Although lacking the anatomic and haptic realism of our newer anatomic pelvic model, the compact Simball simulator was deemed an important tool for improving crucial patient safety parameters such as tool path length, procedure duration and fluid handling.

The researchers recommend that the simulator be “integrated in the training curriculum of gynecological minimally invasive surgery, as it has already been in laparoscopic surgery”.

Clinicians feel more confident after training on the PelvicSim™

While the HystSim™ study took advantage of the simulator-provided metrics to evaluate the participants’ progress, Dodge et al wanted to discover how simulator training affects clinicians’ self-confidence in a study titled “Assessment of a high-fidelity mobile simulator for intrauterine contraception training in ambulatory reproductive health centres” (February 2016). All of the 237 participants were experienced in inserting IUDs, although only some 4% of them had ever inserted Skyla®, one of three IUDs featured in the study. According to the study, the participant felt noticeably more confident about their IUD insertion skills after training on the PelvicSim™; the biggest increase was seen in Skyla® placements.

The participants knew to appreciate the confidence boost: every one of them would recommend the simulator to their colleagues. As the study states, the VirtaMed PelvicSim™ is currently the only virtual reality training tool marketed for IUD placement.

ArthroS™ Shoulder is realistic and useful, and perceived as such

Confidence is not an issue just for the OB/GYN: not all senior residents feel confident with arthroscopic procedures, either, state Rahm et al in their January 2016 study “Validation of a virtual reality-based simulator for shoulder arthroscopy”. The goal of the study was to evaluate both the face validity and the construct validity of the VirtaMed ArthroS™ Shoulder Module; in other words to research whether the simulator appears realistic and useful to the users, and how well it represents the actual, real-life procedure.

The realism and usefulness were determined with a questionnaire: the 31 participants graded the simulator high on both accounts. Construct validity was achieved by reliably telling apart the experts from the novices: as the more experienced half of the test group performed significantly better than the less experienced, the simulator metrics clearly measured the right skills to make the required distinction.

Read more about the studies

Evaluation of the HystSim™-virtual reality trainer: an essential additional tool to train hysteroscopic skills outside the operation theater
Assessment of a high-fidelity mobile simulator for intrauterine contraception training in ambulatory reproductive health centres
Validation of a virtual reality-based simulator for shoulder arthroscopy

Learn more about the evaluated simulators