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Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2007 May;33(5):525-32. Epub 2007 Feb 7.

Identification of skills common to renal and iliac endovascular procedures performed on a virtual reality simulator.

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Department of Biosurgery and Surgical Technology, Imperial College, London, UK.



There is a learning curve in the acquisition of endovascular skills for the treatment of vascular disease. Integration of Virtual reality (VR) simulator based training into the educational training curriculum offers a potential solution to overcome this learning curve. However evidence-based training curricula that define which tasks, how often and in which order they should be performed have yet to be developed. The aim of this study was to determine the nature of skills acquisition on the renal and iliac modules of a commercially-available VR simulator.


20 surgical trainees without endovascular experience were randomised to complete eight sessions on a VR iliac (group A) or renal (group B) training module. To determine skills transferability across the two procedures, all subjects performed two further VR cases of the other procedure. Performance was recorded by the simulator for parameters such as time taken, contrast fluid usage and stent placement accuracy.


During training, both groups demonstrated statistically significant VR learning curves: group A for procedure time (p<0.001) and stent placement accuracy (p=0.013) group B for procedure time (p<0.001), fluoroscopy time (p=0.003) and volume of contrast fluid used (p<0.001). At crossover, subjects in group B (renal trained) performed to the same level of skill on the simulated iliac task as group A. However, those in group A (iliac trained) had a significantly higher fluoroscopy time (median 118 vs 72 secs, p=0.020) when performing their first simulated renal task than for group B.


Novice endovascular surgeons can significantly improve their performance of simulated procedures through repeated practice on VR simulators. Skills transfer between tasks was demonstrated but complex task training, such as selective arterial cannulation in simulators and possibly in the real world appears to involve a separate skill. It is thus suggested that a stepwise and hierarchical training curriculum is developed for acquisition of endovascular skill using VR simulation to supplement training on patients.

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