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Surg Endosc. 2011 Apr;25(4):1107-14. doi: 10.1007/s00464-010-1325-2. Epub 2010 Sep 25.

Limited value of haptics in virtual reality laparoscopic cholecystectomy training.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Cincinnati, 231 Albert Sabin Way, ML 0558, Cincinnati, OH 45267, USA.



Haptics is an expensive addition to virtual reality (VR) simulators, and the added value to training has not been proven. This study evaluated the benefit of haptics in VR laparoscopic surgery training for novices.


The Simbionix LapMentor II haptic VR simulator was used in the study. Randomly, 33 laparoscopic novice students were placed in one of three groups: control, haptics-trained, or nonhaptics-trained group. The control group performed nine basic laparoscopy tasks and four cholecystectomy procedural tasks one time with haptics engaged at the default setting. The haptics group was trained to proficiency in the basic tasks and then performed each of the procedural tasks one time with haptics engaged. The nonhaptics group used the same training protocol except that haptics was disengaged. The proficiency values used were previously published expert values. Each group was assessed in the performance of 10 laparoscopic cholecystectomies (alternating with and without haptics). Performance was measured via automatically collected simulator data.


The three groups exhibited no differences in terms of sex, education level, hand dominance, video game experience, surgical experience, and nonsurgical simulator experience. The number of attempts required to reach proficiency did not differ between the haptics- and nonhaptics-training groups. The haptics and nonhaptics groups exhibited no difference in performance. Both training groups outperformed the control group in number of movements as well as path length of the left instrument. In addition, the nonhaptics group outperformed the control group in total time.


Haptics does not improve the efficiency or effectiveness of LapMentor II VR laparoscopic surgery training. The limited benefit and the significant cost of haptics suggest that haptics should not be included routinely in VR laparoscopic surgery training.

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