Simulation virtuelle pour l’apprentissage de la chirurgie de cataracteVirtual simulation for learning cataract surgery

Authors: I. Adnane, M. Chahbi, M. Elbelhadji

Publication: Journal Français d'Ophtalmologie,
Volume 43, Issue 4,
Pages 334-340,
ISSN 0181-5512,



The training in phacoemulsification cataract surgery in our context requires a long learning curve for a novice surgeon starting from the observation period to the realization of the different operating stages being supervised by a senior surgeon, all under stressful conditions. Topical or locoregional anesthesia limits the communication in the operating room between the novice surgeon and his mentor; thus, increasing the risk of having more operative complications. To reduce the teaching time of cataract surgery, our department has introduced virtual simulator trainings for phacoemulsification.

Purpose of the study

To assess the impact of surgical simulator training on residents’ performances.

Material and methods

We conducted a prospective comparative study in our department in partnership with a private ophthalmology clinic where the simulator is installed. Twelve residents were included in this study, six of them were randomly selected to participate in the phacoemulsification surgical simulator training while the others never used the simulator. The training lasted 30 hours in total. No residents had previous training in phacoemulsification. The parameters studied were: the operating time, the achievement of a circular capsulorhexis of 5-6mm in diameter and well centered, the number of capsular breaks with or without an anterior vitrectomy and finally the accumulated dissipated energy (EDC). The cataract surgery was performed on an Alcon Centurion platform.


In the operating room, each resident operated 25 cataracts; we compared the two user groups including the simulator and non simulator user and we noticed a statistically significant difference (< 0.05) in terms of average operating time respectively 20 minutes and 37 minutes. Regarding the realization of capsulorhexis; 22 cases of rhexis wandering and 12 poorly centred rhexis on 150 operated cataracts were identified (22.7%) in the group of residents who received no simulator training versus 10 cases in the simulator user group (6.7%). The cumulative dissipated energy (EDC) was significantly lower in the simulator user group (8.1 versus 18.7). The same is true for the rate of posterior capsular rupture, which is higher in the non-user group of simulator 37 cases (24.6%) versus 10 cases (8%) in the second group.


Ophthalmic surgery has benefited from the introduction of endo-ocular surgical simulation tools through simulators of vitreoretinal surgery and phacoemulsification; whose main role is primarily pedagogical because a simulator allows young residents to acquire dexterity and autonomy over a shortened period of time in addition to minimizing the risk of complications.


Initial learning of phacoemulsification cataract surgery should be an integral part of the virtual simulator program before moving to the real conditions of the operating room as it allows for better operative performance with a minimal complication rate.