Trainees practice hand-on training during the surgical training course. Source: UpSurgeOn

Unlock your Surgical Excellence with Simulators

Introduction:

Are you looking for a solution to revolutionize your surgical education? Look no further! In this informative blog, let’s explore the remarkable impact of surgical simulators on enhancing surgical skills in surgical education with UpSurgeOn. Nowadays, Surgical simulators play a crucial role in advancing surgical education and improving patient outcomes by offering students a safe and controlled environment to sharpen their skills  Let’s dive into the world of simulated procedures and discover how they can help you master surgical skills.

I. The Importance of Simulated Procedures in Surgical Education

Learning surgical skills on a live person can have medical, legal, and ethical issues. Thus, simulated procedures have become an essential part of surgical education, providing trainees with a controlled setting to gain practical experience without endangering patient safety. Training surgeons and enhancing patient outcomes can both be done safely and effectively through simulation-based learning [1].

Simulation-based learning is a model where an environment similar to real-life surgical situations is created for the trainee to learn. It provides an opportunity to teach and assess medical students objectively and gives them a chance to practice extensively and gain confidence before they enter the operating room and operate on live patients. Simulation-based training is also a useful method for older practitioners wanting to upgrade their surgical skills [1].

II. How do simulators enhance surgical education? 

1. Safe and Realistic Training Environment for Skill Development

The coordinator guided trainees to practice microsurture techniques on the surgical simulator
The coordinator guided trainees to practice microsurture techniques on Mycro – UpSurgeOn’ surgical simulator. Source: UpSurgeOn

Simulation training in surgery offers a safe environment for trainees to acquire crucial skills while avoiding risks to patients, a paramount concern given the potentially devastating consequences of technical errors in this field [2]. Surgical simulators excel at creating lifelike training environments mirroring operating rooms, enabling surgeons and residents to rehearse intricate procedures repeatedly. These simulated scenarios provide learners with opportunities to refine motor skills, enhance hand-eye coordination, and master the precise techniques essential in surgery.

The effectiveness of surgical simulators in improving surgical skills and reducing errors is supported by research done by Kirkman et al. (2014), highlighting their value in surgery education [3]. The application of simulation in surgical education aligns with broader trends in medical education, which prioritize experiential learning through real-world application to guarantee the highest standards of patient care and safety 

2. Improve performance and master surgical skills 

Trainees practice hand-on training during the surgical training course. Source: UpSurgeOn
Trainees practice hand-on training during the surgical training course with surgical simulator. Source: UpSurgeOn

Surgical Simulators can help improve performance and master surgical skills in surgical education [1],[4],[5], which are essential for becoming competent surgeons. 

Firstly, simulation-based learning allows trainees to practice procedures repeatedly until they achieve proficiency [1]. This can take a long time in a clinical setting, but surgical simulators can provide a safe and realistic environment for trainees to develop their skills [4].According to several studies, training with simulation can improve trainee proficiency in a wide range of procedures, such as spinal surgery, neuroendoscopic procedures, and ventriculostomies [6].  

Secondly,surgical simulators can help trainees become more competent in handling intraoperative complications and less commonly performed surgeries [1].Simulators can replicate different scenarios, such as rare or complex cases, that may not be available in a clinical setting [4]. This empowers  trainees to gain experience and confidence in managing a great many circumstances.

Simulators can help trainees increase speed, efficiency, automaticity, and precision in surgical education [8] [7]. Simulation-based training allows trainees to repeat surgical tasks multiple times, establishing muscle memory and enhancing skill competency. This repetition and practice can lead to increased speed and efficiency in performing procedures [8].

3. Enhancing Decision-Making and Critical Thinking Abilities

Simulators in surgical education not only concentrate on technical abilities but also encourage the growth of decision-making and critical thinking skills, which are essential skills for surgeons.  By replicating different scenarios, Surgical simulators allow trainees to practice making decisions in a variety of situations [9]. Trainees have the chance to access complex scenarios  that simulate real-life situations and make quick and accurate decisions. Thanks to simulation technologies, trainees can develop their critical thinking and make informed decisions under pressure, thereby increasing their confidence and expertise in dealing with unexpected challenges. 

4. Accelerating the Learning Curve

Surgical simulators have a positive impact on accelerating the learning curve of surgical trainees, according to the empirical evidence in the research by  Cofano et al. (2022) [10]. The described approach involves using certified simulators in surgical education, incorporating virtual-augmented reality and lifelike simulators. This approach provides a safe learning environment for trainees to develop skills through consistent self-practice and feedback.Simulators expedite the learning curve in surgical education by offering a platform for repetitive practice for trainees, reducing the risk of errors during actual surgeries, and enhancing patient safety [11]. They can practice procedures repeatedly, which can help them achieve proficiency faster than in a clinical setting [12].

Trainees apply augmented reality technologies into surgical training with simulators. Source: UpSurgeOn

The approach also includes the validation of a hybrid (virtual and physical) surgical simulator equipped with augmented reality capabilities [11]. The use of virtual and augmented reality simulators in surgical residency training can also improve surgical skills and accelerate the learning curve [11], [13].

5. Objective Performance Evaluation and Feedback

Objective performance evaluation and feedback are essential components of simulation-based learning in surgical education. Surgical simulators can provide immediate and objective feedback on trainee performance, allowing them to identify areas for improvement and adjust their technique accordingly [14]. Objective performance evaluation can measure various metrics, such as time taken to complete a procedure, accuracy, and precision [15]. Simulation-based learning allows students to identify their weaknesses and develop strategies to improve their skills. Therefore, trainees can improve their performance and build their own confidence more quickly. In general, objective performance evaluation and feedback are crucial for trainees to develop their abilities and become proficient surgeons. 

6. Cost-effective 

Disposable skulls after a simulation-based training session
Disposable skulls after a surgical simulation-based training session. The simulator can be reused many times with disposable skulls. Source: UpSurgeOn

Surgical simulators are an inexpensive way to train surgeons. Simulation-based learning can reduce the cost of training by reducing the number of procedures performed on live patients. Surgical simulators can also reduce the cost of equipment and supplies used in training [16]. By simulating, the students are no longer limited to the working hours, and the learning curve is shortened, as the patient volume is not a limiting factor [12]. Simulation can accelerate training, diminishing the time associated with learning procedures and thus potentially reducing the risk for patients [3]. For many aspiring surgeons, the cost of training can be a huge obstacle to their passage. Surgical simulators provide a cost-effective way to train the next generation of surgeons and improve patient outcomes [16].

7. Collaborative Learning and Research Opportunities

Surgeons and trainees during simulation- based training as part of the Global Training Program 2023. Source: UpSurgeOn
Surgeons and trainees during simulation-based training as part of the Global Training Program 2023. Source: UpSurgeOn

Simulators in surgical education offer collaborative learning and research opportunities [3],[17]. Trainees can engage in team-based learning, where they work together to solve complex cases and share their knowledge and experiences. This collaborative approach fosters a sense of camaraderie and encourages trainees to learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses [17]. Surgical simulators also provide a platform for conducting research and innovation in surgical techniques and technologies. Researchers can use surgical simulators to test new procedures, devices, and treatment strategies in a controlled and safe environment [3]. This collaborative learning and research environment not only benefits trainees but also contributes to the advancement of surgical education and practice as a whole.

Conclusion

Simulation-based training has revolutionized surgical education by giving trainees a secure and efficient setting to learn and practice surgical techniques. Surgical simulators have become invaluable tools for improving patient outcomes and advancing medical education due to their realistic training environments, enhanced decision-making abilities, and accelerated learning curves. Thanks to the support of simulation-based training, you can shape the future of surgery. Do not hesitate to explore UpSurgeOn to embrace the world of simulation technologies and unlock the future of surgery now! 


References:

[1] Khunger, N., & Kathuria, S. (2016). Mastering Surgical Skills Through Simulation-Based Learning: Practice Makes One Perfect. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, 9(1), 27–31. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-2077.178540

[2] Davids, J., Manivannan, S., Darzi, A., Giannarou, S., Ashrafian, H., & Marcus, H. J. (2021). Simulation for skills training in neurosurgery: a systematic review, meta-analysis, and analysis of progressive scholarly acceptance. Neurosurgical review, 44(4), 1853–1867. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10143-020-01378-0

[3] Kirkman, M. A., Ahmed, M., Albert, A. F., Wilson, M. H., Nandi, D., & Sevdalis, N. (2014). The use of simulation in neurosurgical education and training. A systematic review. Journal of neurosurgery, 121(2), 228–246. https://doi.org/10.3171/2014.5.JNS131766

[4] Agha, R. A., & Fowler, A. J. (2015). The role and validity of surgical simulation. International surgery, 100(2), 350–357. https://doi.org/10.9738/INTSURG-D-14-00004.1

[5] Cardoso, S. A., Suyambu, J., Iqbal, J., Jaimes, D. C. C., Amin, A., Sikto, J. T., … & Kuruba, V. (2023). Exploring the Role of Simulation Training in Improving Surgical Skills Among Residents: A Narrative Review. Cureus, 15(9).

[6] Rothstein, B. D., & Selman, W. R. (2015). Evaluating simulation as a teaching tool in neurosurgery. AMA Journal of Ethics, 17(1), 33-36.

[7] Stefanidis, D., Scerbo, M. W., Korndorffer Jr, J. R., & Scott, D. J. (2007). Redefining simulator proficiency using automaticity theory. The American Journal of Surgery, 193(4), 502-506.

[8] Papanikolaou, I. G., Haidopoulos, D., Paschopoulos, M., Chatzipapas, I., Loutradis, D., & Vlahos, N. F. (2019). Changing the way we train surgeons in the 21th century: A narrative comparative review focused on box trainers and virtual reality simulators. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 235, 13-18.

[9] Haji, F. A. (2021). Simulation in neurosurgical education during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences, 48(2), 152-154.

[10] Cofano, F., Di Perna, G., Zeppa, P., Lanotte, M., & Garbossa, D. (2022). Improving Surgical Skills During Residency: A Scheduled and Certified Approach With Virtual-Augmented Reality and Life-Like Simulators: Experience in a Single School of Neurosurgery. Neurosurgery, 91(2), e71-e73.

[11] Petrone, S., Cofano, F., Nicolosi, F., Spena, G., Moschino, M., Di Perna, G., … & Garbossa, D. (2022). Virtual-augmented reality and life-like neurosurgical simulator for training: first evaluation of a hands-on experience for residents. Frontiers in Surgery, 9, 862948.

[12] Oliveira, L., & Figueiredo, E. (2019). Simulation training methods in neurological surgery. Asian Journal of Neurosurgery, 14(02), 364-370.

[13] Chaer, R. A., DeRubertis, B. G., Lin, S. C., Bush, H. L., Karwowski, J. K., Birk, D., … & Kent, K. C. (2006). Simulation improves resident performance in catheter-based intervention: results of a randomized, controlled study. Annals of surgery, 244(3), 343.

[14] Clark, A. D., Barone, D. G., Candy, N., Guilfoyle, M., Budohoski, K., Hofmann, R., … & Trivedi, R. A. (2017). The effect of 3-dimensional simulation on neurosurgical skill acquisition and surgical performance: a review of the literature. Journal of surgical education, 74(5), 828-836.

[15] Choudhury, N., Gélinas-Phaneuf, N., Delorme, S., & Del Maestro, R. (2013). Fundamentals of neurosurgery: virtual reality tasks for training and evaluation of technical skills. World Neurosurgery, 80(5), e9-e19.

[16] Maloney, S., & Haines, T. (2016). Issues of cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness for simulation in health professions education. Advances in Simulation, 1(1), 1-6.

[17] Chernikova, O., Heitzmann, N., Stadler, M., Holzberger, D., Seidel, T., & Fischer, F. (2020). Simulation-based learning in higher education: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 90(4), 499-541.

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