Simulator training on pulsatile vascular models significantly improves surgical skills and the quality of carotid patch plasty

N. Duschek, A. Assadian, P. M. Lamont, K. Klemm, J. Schmidli, H. Mendel, H.-H, Eckstein (2013): Simulator training on pulsatile vascular models significantly improves surgical skills and the quality of carotid patch plasty. J Vasc Surg 2013; 57 (4); pp. 1-7.

Objective: Vascular surgeons perform numerous highly sophisticated and delicate procedures. Due to restrictions in training time and the advent of endovascular techniques, new concepts including alternative environments for training and assessment of surgical skills are required. Over the past decade, training on simulators and synthetic models has become more sophisticated and lifelike. This study was designed to evaluate the impact of a 3-day intense training course in open vascular surgery on both specific and global vascular surgical skills.
Methods: Prospective observational cohort analysis with various parameter measurements of both surgical skills and the technical quality of the finished product, performed before and after 3 days of simulator training of 10 participants (seven male and three female) in a vascular surgery training course. The simulator model used was a conventional carotid endarterectomy with a Dacron patch plasty on a lifelike carotid bench model under pulsatile pressure. The primary end points were assessment of any changes in the participants’ surgical skills and in the technical quality of their completed carotid patches documented by procedure-based assessment forms. Scores ranging from 1 (inadequate) to 5 (excellent) were compared by a related-sample Wilcoxon signed test. Interobserver reliability was estimated by Cronbach’s alpha (CA).
Results: A significant improvement in surgical skills tasks was observed (P < .001). The mean score increased significantly by 21.5% from fair (3.43 ± 0.93) to satisfactory (4.17 ± 0.69; P < .001). The mean score for the quality of the carotid patch increased significantly by 0.96 (27%) from fair (3.55 ± 0.87) to satisfactory (4.51 ± 0.76; P < .01). The median interassessor reliability for the quality of the carotid patch was acceptable (CA [ 0.713) and for surgical skills was low (CA [ 0.424).
Conclusions: This study shows that lifelike simulation featuring pulsatile flow can increase surgical skills and technical quality in a highly sophisticated multistep vascular intervention. This training provides comparatively inexpensive and lifelike training possibilities for the adoption and assessment of surgical skills required to perform delicate vascular surgical procedures. (J Vasc Surg 2013;-:1-7.)