, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 918-924
Date: 23 Oct 2013

Design and validation of an assessment tool for open surgical procedures

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Laparoscopy is currently the gold standard for cholecystectomy. Recent literature suggests surgical trainees have limited exposure to open cholecystectomy, which may result in suboptimal performance in the event of conversion. Furthermore, most training and assessment models are designed for laparoscopic cholecystectomy, with limited opportunities for open simulator training. The present study’s purpose was to design an inexpensive model for open cholecystectomy and to validate a performance assessment tool.


The simulator comprises a porcine liver and gallbladder in a mock human abdomen with silicon skin. The assessment tool utilizes inexpensive infrared (IR) cameras to provide tracking of participant hand motions. Eleven novice general surgery trainees (<20 cholecystectomies) and five expert surgeons (>100 cholecystectomies) completed an open cholecystectomy using the simulator. Procedures were recorded and assessed by a blinded evaluator using a global rating scale. Tracking data analysis was based on number of movements and total path length.


Novices (t = 36.18 min) completed the procedure significantly slower than did experts (t = 19.53 min) (Mann–Whitney test U = 20, p < 0.05) and had significantly more hand movements (Mann–Whitney test U = 20, p < 0.05). Analysis of the total global rating scale scores showed a significant difference between novice (14/35) and expert (24/35) performance in all categories (Mann–Whitney test U = 58, p < 0.05).


The present model presents a realistic, low-cost tool for training and assessment of procedural skills in open cholecystectomy. The study demonstrated the validity of the IR tracking device as an objective assessment tool for open surgical skills training. Future training should incorporate this low-cost, highly effective training device into surgical curricula.