Mannheim/Tübingen. A study now published by the University of Tübingen proves that training on the Eyesi ophthalmic surgical simulator from VRmagic considerably improves the surgical performance of ophthalmology students when practicing on pig eyes.
The goal of the study led by Elisabeth Feudner at the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Tübingen was to investigate whether students who had previously trained opening the front lens capsule of the eye on the virtual reality simulator subsequently performed the operation better. The comparison was made by performing operations on pig eyes, as is usual in ophthalmological training.
31 qualified medical students and 32 trainee doctors took part in the randomized, masked study over a period of three weeks. Each participant had to open the lens capsule, so-called capsulorhexis, on a pig eye three times at the start and end of the study. In the interim period, one group of the study participants completed structured training on the Eyesi surgical simulator. The total of 372 pig eye operations was evaluated on the basis of a ten-point system. The difference in the performance of the participants at the start and end of the study was then calculated.
Compared with the mean performance improvement of 0.33 points in the control group, the students and doctors who had trained on Eyesi showed a significant improvement in their surgical capabilities with a value of 3.67 points. These students performed the operation to open the lens capsule more consistently, more quickly and with fewer tissue injuries, and also achieved better results with respect to uniformity, size and centering.
Capsulorhexis is a crucial step in cataract operations when it is necessary to remove the lens and replace it with an implant due to clouding. A circular opening is produced in the front lens capsule of the eye by a controlled tearing maneuver. The Eyesi surgical simulator allows training of cataract and vitreoretinal operations, in other words surgical procedures on both the lens and retina. The suitability of vitreoretinal training units with Eyesi for ophthalmological training was already proven in a study conducted in 2004 by Juliana V. Rossi from the Doheny Retina Institute at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA. A further study conducted in 2008 by Michael A. Mahr, MD, Director at the Mayo Clinic Department of Ophthalmology, Rochester, Minnesota, investigated how the abstract Eyesi modules on surgical instrument handling allow students to master surgical techniques.
The importance of simulators in medical training is increasing globally. In the U.S., the use of simulators has been included in the guidelines for ophthalmologist training since 2007. Virtual reality technology allows surgeons to practice operations under extremely realistic conditions without any risk to patients. Other benefits for medical training include permanent availability of the simulator and the possibility of objective measurement and assessment of surgical performance.