A team from Vienna, Austria, evaluated a virtual reality endoscopy simulator for training in gastrointestinal endoscopy.
They assessed whether the GI-Mentor virtual simulator can distinguish between beginners and experts in endoscopy, and whether training improves the performance of beginners.
A total of 13 beginners and 11 experts in gastrointestinaI endoscopy were included in the study.
An expert was defined as an endoscopist who had performed more than 1000 procedures.
Beginners were randomly allocated to receive training (n = 7) or no training (n = 6).
The training group was allowed to practice using the simulator for 2 hours per day.
After 3 weeks participants were re-evaluated with 2 new virtual endoscopy cases and 1 virtual skill test.
Insertion time, correctly identified pathologies, adverse events, and skill test performance were recorded.
|3-week training program significantly improves beginners' performance.
The baseline assessment revealed significant differences, favoring the experts for virtual endoscopies and skill tests.
Significant differences in favor of experts were found for a number of recordings. This included successful retroflection during esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), adverse events during colonoscopy, and insertion time.
Correctly identified pathologies in gastroscopy and colonoscopy and skill test performance also favored the experts.
In the final evaluation, training the beginners was shown to improve number of adverse events during virtual endoscopy, insertion time during colonoscopy, and skill test performance.
The researchers found that the training group improved its abilities on the simulator significantly.
In addition, differences between experts and the training group were no longer seen.
Dr A. Ferlitsch, of the University of Vienna, said on behalf of colleagues, "The GI-Mentor virtual endoscopy simulator is capable of identifying differences between beginners and experts in gastrointestinal endoscopy."
"A 3-week training program improves the performance of beginners significantly. This quite fast improvement in endoscopic skills certainly cannot be seen in clinical practice," it was added.
Dr Ferlitsch concluded that, "No conclusions can be made about the impact of virtual simulator training on real-life endoscopy, and this must be evaluated."