NEUROSURGERY SIMULATION IN RESIDENCY TRAINING: FEASIBILITY, COST, AND EDUCATIONAL BENEFIT

OBJECTIVE:

To create a neurosurgery simulation curriculum encompassing basic and advanced skills, cadaveric dissection, cranial and spine surgery simulation, and endovascular and computerized haptic training.

METHODS:

A curriculum with 68 core exercises per academic year was distributed in individualized sets of 30 simulations to 6 neurosurgery residents. The total number of procedures completed during the academic year was set to 180. The curriculum includes 79 simulations with physical models, 57 cadaver dissections, and 44 haptic/computerized sessions. Likert-type evaluations regarding self-perceived performance were completed after each exercise. Subject identification was blinded to junior (postgraduate years 1-3) or senior resident (postgraduate years 4-6). Wilcoxon rank testing was used to detect differences within and between groups.

RESULTS:

One hundred eighty procedures and surveys were analyzed. Junior residents reported proficiency improvements in 82% of simulations performed (P < .001). Senior residents reported improvement in 42.5% of simulations (P < .001). Cadaver simulations accrued the highest reported benefit (71.5%; P < .001), followed by physical simulators (63.8%; P < .001) and haptic/computerized (59.1; P < .001). Initial cost is $341,978.00, with $27,876.36 for annual operational expenses.

CONCLUSIONS:

The systematic implementation of a simulation curriculum in a neurosurgery training program is feasible, is favorably regarded, and has a positive impact on trainees of all levels, particularly in junior years. All simulation forms, cadaver, physical, and haptic/computerized, have a role in different stages of learning and should be considered in the development of an educational simulation program.

Dwight Mann