By: 9 September 2020
Study demonstrates significant improvement in surgical proficiency using virtual reality training

Osso VR, a virtual reality-based surgical training platform used by surgeons globally, and the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, recently announced the results of a validation study using its technology. The study, titled “Does Virtual Reality Improve Procedural Completion and Accuracy in an Intramedullary Tibial Nail Procedure? A Randomised Control Trial” was published online in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research in August 2020.

The study examined whether VR, compared to the current standard of a technique guide for surgical training, would show an improvement in procedural accuracy and completion for an intramedullary (IM) tibial nail procedure, which requires the combination of elaborate and large-scale movement applicable to most surgeries, and its conclusion found VR significantly increased procedural accuracy and completion rate of an IM nail procedure when compared to the utilisation of a technique guide alone. This demonstrates VR has the potential to help residents learn all surgical procedures and its utilisation in surgical training may improve patient safety and outcomes.

For the study, 25 first and second-year medical students, without prior exposure to an IM tibial nail insertion procedure, were recruited. This participant group sets this study apart from other studies on VR in surgical training as to ensure participants had largely the same skill level. Participants were randomly assigned to the technique guide control group, the VR group, or the VR and technique guide group. In the control group, participants were given an online document with wording and images directly from a tibial nail technique guide, which they were able to use at their discretion. Participants in the VR experimental groups went through Osso VR’s simulation in three separate sessions, at a set interval of 3-4 days apart. Following 10-14 days of preparation, all participants performed an IM nail on a SawBones tibia.

In the technique guide group, two of eight (25 per cent) participants successfully completed the procedure. Both VR groups demonstrated significantly increased procedural completion rates (p < .05) with the VR group having a six of eight (75 per cent) completion rate, and the VR technique guide group having a seven of nine (78 per cent) completion rate. The number of normalised incorrect steps displayed a significant difference between both the VR and VR technique groups when compared to the technique guide group (p = .02).

“The use of augmented reality, mixed reality, and virtual reality have become more prevalent in surgical preparation in recent years, and through learning more about its uses I became interested in putting technology to the test to understand how they could contribute to surgical proficiency,” said Mark Orland, head of the VR research study at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago. “I was first introduced to Osso VR, specifically, through its use with medical students at the University of Illinois’ College of Medicine and saw how the students were using it to practice surgical steps or learn new procedures. The results of this study demonstrate the effectiveness of VR and how it can be particularly impactful in improving procedural accuracy and completion rates.”

“This is another exciting study further exhibiting the significant impact VR is able to have on surgical proficiency and patient outcomes on a global basis,” said Justin Barad, co-founder of Osso VR. “We repeatedly cite a University of Michigan study showing that upon graduation from residency, after 14 years of education, 30 per cent of surgeons were still unable to operate independently. We truly believe that the safe and repeatable environment of VR, combined with a realistic immersive environment, has the capability to change that outcome in the years to come.”

A previous Osso VR validation study from August 2019 conducted by the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) showed a 230 per cent improvement in the participants’ overall surgical performance when prepared with its VR training.

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