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Surg Endosc. 2012 Apr;26(4):1128-34. doi: 10.1007/s00464-011-2011-8. Epub 2011 Nov 2.

Effect of haptic feedback in laparoscopic surgery skill acquisition.

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Mechanical Engineering Department, Tufts University, 200 College Avenue, Medford, MA 02155, USA.



The benefits of haptic feedback in laparoscopic surgery training simulators is a topic of debate in the literature. It is hypothesized that novice surgeons may not benefit from the haptic information, especially during the initial phase of learning a new task. Therefore, provision of haptic feedback to novice trainees in the early stage of training may be distracting and detrimental to learning. A controlled experiment was conducted to examine the effect of haptic feedback on the learning curve of a complex laparoscopic suturing and knot-tying task.


The ProMIS and the MIST-VR surgical simulators were used to represent conditions with and without haptic feedback, respectively. A total of 20 novice subjects (10 per simulator) were trained to perform suturing and knot-tying and practiced the tasks in 18 sessions of 1 h each.


At the end of the 3-week training period, the subjects performed equally fast but more consistently with haptics (ProMIS) than without haptics (MIST-VR). The subjects showed a slightly higher learning rate and reached the first plateau of the learning curve earlier with haptic feedback.


In general, learning with haptic feedback was significantly better than learning without it for a laparoscopic suturing and knot-tying task, but only during the first 5 h of training. Haptic feedback may not be warranted in laparoscopic surgical trainers. The benefits of a shorter time to the first performance plateau and more consistent initial performance should be balanced with the cost of implementing haptic feedback in surgical simulators.

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