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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Journal of Robotic Surgery, Volume 8, Issue 4, November 2014, Pages 329-335.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1007/s11701-014-0475-y. Copyright © Springer-Verlag


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of virtual reality (VR) simulation versus dry lab suturing practice at improving suturing performance in robotic surgery. Nineteen novice participants with no prior robotic suturing experience were randomized to two groups, VR simulation and dry lab, which consisted of inanimate training on a da Vinci Si surgical system. Each group underwent baseline suturing evaluation, then trained on the Simbionix™ Suturing Module (SSM) or undertook suturing practice using the da Vinci Surgical System in a dry lab. Final suturing performance was evaluated using the objective suture scoring method. Participants in the VR simulation group were surveyed to assess the face and content validity of the SSM. Both groups experienced significant improvement after training (VR simulation group p = 0.0078; dry lab group p = 0.0039). There was no significant difference in improvement between the two groups after undergoing training with either SSM or in the dry lab. Improvements in composite timing scores were 123 and 172 in the VR simulation and dry lab test groups, respectively (p = 0.36). Face validation varied with respect to the category assessed, but participants confirmed content validity of the SSM in all categories. In this sample of novice operators, there was no significant advantage in training with VR simulation using the SSM over dry lab training in improving suturing performance. Users of the SSM found it useful and relevant as a training tool for improving suturing performance.

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