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Surgery. 2012 Jul;152(1):12-20. doi: 10.1016/j.surg.2011.12.036. Epub 2012 Feb 16.

Laparoscopic simulation training: Testing for skill acquisition and retention.

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Department of General and Visceral Surgery, University Hospital Muenster, Muenster, Germany.



Simulation in laparoscopy leads to skill acquisition. Although many curricula for simulation training have been described, the nature of skill deterioration remains unclear. We evaluated skill acquisition and retention after laparoscopic simulation training.


Thirty-six novices in surgery (medical students) underwent a 5-day curriculum consisting of 9 skills of increasing complexity. Each subject underwent baseline and post-training evaluation after completion of the course. Skill retention testing was measured after 6 weeks (group 1; n = 18) and after 11 weeks (group 2; n = 18). Neither group had access to a training facility during this interval. Task completion was measured in time (s) with penalties for inaccurate performance.


Comparison of the baseline and post-training values revealed a significant learning outcome for all exercises in both groups (P < .001). In group 1, skill retention testing found no significant decrease in skill level when compared to post-training values in all but 1 task (extracorporeal knot tying; P = .007). In group 2, differences between skill retention and post-training evaluation were observed for 5 of the 9 tasks (transfer task, positioning, loop tie, extracorporeal knot, and intracorporeal knot; P ≤ .05 for each).


Basic laparoscopic skills can be learned successfully by novices in surgery using a compact curriculum. These skills are retained for at least 6 weeks. Eleven weeks after initial training, skill deterioration is likely, and therefore an opportunity for practice and repetition is desirable.

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