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Retention of laparoscopic and robotic skills among medical students: a randomized controlled trial

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Although simulation training beneficially contributes to traditional surgical training, there are less objective data on simulation skills retention.


To investigate the retention of laparoscopic and robotic skills after simulation training.


We present the second stage of a randomized single-blinded controlled trial in which 40 simulation-naïve medical students were randomly assigned to practice peg transfer tasks on either laparoscopic (N = 20, Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery, Venture Technologies Inc., Waltham, MA) or robotic (N = 20, dV-Trainer, Mimic, Seattle, WA) platforms. In the first stage, two expert surgeons evaluated participants on both tasks before (Stage 1: Baseline) and immediately after training (Stage 1: Post-training) using a modified validated global rating scale of laparoscopic and robotic operative performance. In Stage 2, participants were evaluated on both tasks 11–20 weeks after training.


Of the 40 students who participated in Stage 1, 23 (11 laparoscopic and 12 robotic) underwent repeat evaluation. During Stage 2, there were no significant differences between groups in objective or subjective measures for the laparoscopic task. Laparoscopic-trained participants’ performances on the laparoscopic task were improved during Stage 2 compared to baseline measured by time to task completion, but not by the modified global rating scale. During the robotic task, the robotic-trained group demonstrated superior economy of motion (p = .017), Tissue Handling (p = .020), and fewer errors (p = .018) compared to the laparoscopic-trained group. Robotic skills acquisition from baseline with no significant deterioration as measured by modified global rating scale scores was observed among robotic-trained participants during Stage 2.


Robotic skills acquired through simulation appear to be better maintained than laparoscopic simulation skills.

Clinical trial

This study is registered on (NCT02370407).

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This research was presented at the 2016 CREOG/APGO Annual Meeting, March 3, 2016, in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Mimic Technologies, Inc., dV-trainer was on loan to the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions for the duration of the study.

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Correspondence to Chi Chiung Grace Chen.

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MSO, LT, MGA and CCGC have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.

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Orlando, M.S., Thomaier, L., Abernethy, M.G. et al. Retention of laparoscopic and robotic skills among medical students: a randomized controlled trial. Surg Endosc 31, 3306–3312 (2017).

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