Background: This study assesses the acquisition of skill and the learning curve associated with the performance of the clip-and-cut task on the Xitact LS 500 virtual reality (VR) simulator in laparoscopic cholecystectomy.Methods: A group of 33 residents and interns with no previous laparoscopic experience participated in the study. All participants received a 1-h familiarization tour on the simulator. Thirty participants completed a full course of 30 simulation runs over 3 days (10 runs per day). The outcome parameters were a previously validated sum-score and time to complete performance. Results: Group demographics were similar. Of the participants who completed the full study, 16.7% appeared to have such a high level of innate psychomotor abilities that they were considered proficient in the task immediately after the initial familiarization tour. Most participants (63.3%) had a moderate level of innate abilities, and their performance improved through repetitive VR training. In our study, 20% of the participants had such a low level of innate abilities that they were unable to achieve an acceptable performance in our minimal-access surgery (MAS) simulation.Conclusions: Learning curves cannot be assessed by examining the repetitive training of only one person. There seem to be four different performance profiles, reflecting the fact that some people are more adept than others to be trained by MAS procedural VR simulation. For participants receptive to training—63.3% in this study—proficiency in the task occurs after ~25 simulative runs.
Virtual realityMinimal-access surgerySimulationLearning curveValidationSurgical training