Surgical Endoscopy

, 25:2063 | Cite as

Mastery versus the standard proficiency target for basic laparoscopic skill training: effect on skill transfer and retention

  • Nicoleta O. Kolozsvari
  • Pepa Kaneva
  • Chantalle Brace
  • Genevieve Chartrand
  • Marilou Vaillancourt
  • Jiguo Cao
  • Daniel Banaszek
  • Sebastian Demyttenaere
  • Melina C. Vassiliou
  • Gerald M. Fried
  • Liane S. Feldman
SAGES University



Little evidence exists to guide educators in the best way to implement simulation within surgical skills curricula. This study investigated whether practicing a basic Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) simulator task [peg transfer (PT)] facilitates learning a more complex skill [intracorporeal suturing (ICS)] and compared the effect of PT training to mastery with training to the passing level on PT retention and on learning ICS.


For this study, 98 surgically naïve subjects were randomized to one of three PT training groups: control, standard training, and overtraining. All the participants then trained in ICS. The learning curves for ICS were analyzed by estimating the learning plateau and rate using nonlinear regression. Skill retention was assessed by retesting participants 1 month after training. The groups were compared using analysis of variance (ANOVA). Effectiveness of skill transfer was calculated using the transfer effectiveness ratio (TER). Data are presented as mean ± standard deviation (p < 0.05).


The study was completed by 77 participants (28 control, 26 standard, and 23 overtrained subjects). The ICS learning plateau rose with increasing PT training (452 ± 10 vs. 459 ± 10 vs. 467 ± 10; p < 0.01). Increased PT training was associated with a trend toward higher initial ICS scores (128 ± 107 vs. 127 ± 110 vs. 183 ± 106; p = 0.13) and faster learning rates (15 ± 4 vs. 14 ± 4 vs. 13 ± 4 trials; p = 0.10). At retention, there were no differences in PT scores (p = 0.5). The PT training took 20 ± 10 min for standard training and 39 ± 20 min for overtraining (p < 0.01). Overtrained participants saved 11 ± 5 min in ICS training compared with the control subjects (p = 0.04). However, TER was 0.165 for the overtraining group and 0.160 for the standard training group, suggesting that PT overtraining took longer than the time saved on ICS training.


For surgically naïve subjects, part-task training with PT alone was associated with slight improvements in the learning curve for ICS. However, overtraining with PT did not improve skill retention, and peg training alone was not an efficient strategy for learning ICS.


FLS Learning curve Part-task training Proficiency-based training Retention 



This research project was supported by a Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) research grant. The Steinberg-Bernstein Centre for Minimally Invasive Surgery and Innovation receives an unrestricted educational grant from Covidien. We thank SAGES for awarding us a research grant for this project. We also thank the students who participated in this study.


Nicoleta O. Kolozsvari receives salary support from the McGill Surgeon Scientist program. Nicoleta O. Kolozsvari, Pepa Kaneva, Chantalle Brace, Genevieve Chartrand, Marilou Vaillancourt, Jiguo Cao, Daniel Banaszek, Sebastian Demyttenaere, Melina C. Vassiliou, Gerald M. Fried, and Liane S. Feldman have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicoleta O. Kolozsvari
    • 1
  • Pepa Kaneva
    • 1
  • Chantalle Brace
    • 1
  • Genevieve Chartrand
    • 1
  • Marilou Vaillancourt
    • 1
  • Jiguo Cao
    • 2
  • Daniel Banaszek
    • 1
  • Sebastian Demyttenaere
    • 1
  • Melina C. Vassiliou
    • 1
  • Gerald M. Fried
    • 1
  • Liane S. Feldman
    • 1
  1. 1.Steinberg-Bernstein Centre for Minimally Invasive Surgery and InnovationMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of Statistics and Actuarial ScienceSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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