Simulation models for training in laparoscopic hysterectomy
While overall hysterectomy numbers have remained relatively stable during the last 10 years, the proportion of laparoscopic hysterectomy procedures is increasing in residency training.1 Many toolkits and models are available for practicing skills, from low-fidelity models on which to rehearse laparoscopic techniques (suturing, instrument handling) to high-fidelity models that provide augmented reality views of the abdominal cavity as well as the operating room itself. We offer a sampling of 4 such models below.
The FLS trainer system
The Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) Trainer Box (Limbs & Things Ltd) provides hands-on manual skills practice and training for laparoscopic surgery (FIGURE 3). The FLS trainer box uses 5 skills to challenge a surgeon’s dexterity and psychomotor skills. The set includes the trainer box with a camera and light source as well as the equipment needed to perform the 5 FLS tasks (peg transfer, pattern cutting, ligating loop, and intracorporeal and extracorporeal knot tying). The kit does not include laparoscopic instruments or a monitor.
The FLS trainer box with camera costs $1,164. The advantages are that it is portable and can be used to warm-up prior to surgery or for practice to improve technical skills. It is a great tool for junior residents who are learning the basics of laparoscopic surgery. This trainer’s disadvantages are that it is a low-fidelity unit that is procedure agnostic. For more information, visit the Limbs & Things website at https://www.fls-products.com.
Notably, ObGyn residents who graduate after May 31, 2020, will be required to successfully complete the FLS program as a prerequisite for specialty board certification.2 The FLS program is endorsed by the American College of Surgeons and is run through the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons. The FLS test is proctored and must be taken at a testing center.
Takeaway. The FLS trainer box is readily available, portable, relatively inexpensive, low-tech, and has valid benchmarks for proficiency. The FLS test will be required for ObGyn residents by 2020.
The SimPraxis software trainer
The SimPraxis Laparoscopic Hysterectomy Trainer (Red Llama, Inc) is an interactive simulation software platform that is available in DVD or USB format (FIGURE 4). The software is designed to review anatomy, surgical instrumentation, and specific steps of the procedure. It provides formative assessments and offers summative feedback for users.
The SimPraxis training software would make a useful tool to familiarize medical students and interns with the basics of the procedure before advancing to other simulation trainers. The software costs $100. For more information, visit https://www.3-dmed.com/product/simpraxis%C3%82%C2%AE-laparoscopic-hyster....
Takeaway. The SimPraxis software is ideal for novice learners and can be used on a home or office computer.
The LapSim virtual reality trainer
The LapSim Haptic System (Surgical Science) is a virtual reality skills trainer. The hysterectomy module includes right and left uterine artery dissection, vaginal cuff opening, and cuff closure (FIGURE 5). One advantage of this simulator is its haptic feedback system, which enhances the fidelity of the training.
The LapSim simulator includes a training module for students and early learners and modules to improve camera handling. The virtual reality base system costs $70,720, and the hysterectomy software module is an additional $15,600.
Takeaway. The LapSim is an expensive, high-fidelity, virtual reality simulator with enhanced haptics and software for practicing laparoscopic hysterectomy.
The LAP Mentor virtual reality simulator
The LAP Mentor VR (3D Systems) is another virtual reality simulator that has modules for laparoscopic hysterectomy and cuff closure (FIGURE 6). The trainee uses a virtual reality headset and becomes fully immersed in the operating room environment with audio and visual cues that mimic a real surgical experience.
The hysterectomy module allows the user to manipulate the uterus, identify the ureters, divide the superior pedicles, mobilize the bladder, expose and divide the uterine artery, and perform the colpotomy. The cuff closure module allows the user to suture the vaginal cuff using barbed suture. The module also can expose the learner to complications, such as bladder, ureteral, colon, or vascular injury.
The LAP Mentor VR base system costs $84,000 and the modules cost about $15,000. For additional information, visit the company’s website at http://simbionix.com/simulators/lap-mentor/lap-mentor-vr-or/.
Takeaway. The LAP Mentor is an expensive, high-fidelity simulation platform with a virtual reality headset that simulates a laparoscopic hysterectomy (with complications) in the operating room.