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AIM OF THE STUDY: The purpose of this research project, granted by the Italian University and Scientific Research Ministry
(MIUR) and carried on among four Surgical Departments in Padua, Verona, Pisa and Rome-Tor Vergata Universities,
is to study the effectiveness of a virtual reality simulator as a tool for surgical residents training and as a method for
measuring the surgical skills.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The residents performances on the computer were compared with those obtained by other training
groups: medical students with no surgical background, senior surgeons with experience in the laparoscopy field and
non medical students with referred ability in videogames. The residents were also sent to a well certified live animal
laboratory where they could perform a cholecystectomy in a pig. Their operation was assessed by two independent observers
using a new scoring methods for assessing the operative errors.
RESULTS: Statistically significant differences among the groups could be seen only after several tasks sessions and in the
more surgical specific tasks. The first data analysis shows a fair correlation between the residents rank positions after the
training tasks on the simulator and those obtained in the surgical operation.
CONCLUSION: Even if the data are not conclusive and the surgical simulators must develop greater levels of fidelity and
operational diversity, the potential value of simulation in the educational surgical field appears to be impressive.