Virtual reality robotic surgery simulation curriculum to teach robotic suturing: a randomized controlled trial


The objective of this randomized, controlled trial was to assess whether voluntary participation in a proctored, proficiency-based, virtual reality robotic suturing curriculum using the da Vinci® Skills Simulator™ improves robotic suturing performance. Residents and attending surgeons were randomized to participation or non-participation during a 5 week training curriculum. Robotic suturing skills were evaluated before and after training using an inanimate vaginal cuff model, which participants sutured for 10 min using the da Vinci® Surgical System. Performances were videotaped, anonymized, and subsequently graded independently by three robotic surgeons. 27 participants were randomized. 23 of the 27 completed both the pre- and post-test, 13 in the training group and 10 in the control group. Mean training time in the intervention group was 238 ± 136 min (SD) over the 5 weeks. The primary outcome (improvement in GOALS+ score) and the secondary outcomes (improvement in GEARS, total knots, satisfactory knots, and the virtual reality suture sponge 1 task) were significantly greater in the training group than the control group in unadjusted analysis. After adjusting for lower baseline scores in the training group, improvement in the suture sponge 1 task remained significantly greater in the training group and a trend was demonstrated to greater improvement in the training group for the GOALS+ score, GEARS score, total knots, and satisfactory knots.

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Conflict of interest

Authors Kiely, Gotlieb, Lau, Zeng, Samouelian, Ramanakumar, Zakrzewski, Brin, Fraser, Korsieporn, Drudi, and Press declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all study participants.

Compliance with ethical standards

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the McGill Faculty of Medicine Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

Author information

Correspondence to Daniel J. Kiely.

Additional information

Condensation: In this randomized controlled trial, learners randomized to participation in a virtual reality robotic suturing curriculum showed a trend towards greater improvement when scored on their ability to suture an inanimate vaginal cuff model using the da Vinci® Surgical System. NCT01811095,

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Supplementary material 1 (MP4 114368 kb)

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Kiely, D.J., Gotlieb, W.H., Lau, S. et al. Virtual reality robotic surgery simulation curriculum to teach robotic suturing: a randomized controlled trial. J Robotic Surg 9, 179–186 (2015) doi:10.1007/s11701-015-0513-4

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  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Patient simulation
  • Computer simulation
  • Graduate medical education
  • Robotics
  • Operative surgical procedures