Study Finds Cataract Surgery Simulator Training Decreased Operative Times for Resident Surgeons

Alison Rodriguez

The operative times of third-year residents learning phacoemulsification, a type of cataract surgery, may be significantly reduced by early and continuous implementation of mandatory virtual simulator surgical training before starting to perform intraocular surgery, according to a recent study comparing surgical duration for routine phacoemulsification surgeries in residents.

The study, published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology Case Reports, involved operative times of routine phacoemulsification cataract surgeries performed by 29 third-year residents rotating at 1 academic institution. One group of residents participated in mandatory virtual cataract surgery simulator training (SIM) during their second year of residency, before they started performing surgeries. The other group of residents did not participate in any of the simulator training (NOSIM).

For both groups, the researchers measured the surgical times and vitreous loss rates between the groups over the course of their third year of residency.

The results involved 722 surgeries in total. In the SIM group, surgeries were an average of 6.7 minutes shorter than in the NOSIM group. However, both groups required less time for surgery over the course of their academic year.

Additionally, the analysis revealed that NOSIM group residents had required 17% longer time for an uncomplicated clear corneal phacoemulsification surgery. Also, the SIM group was 9 minutes faster than the NOSIM group in the final month of residency.

As for vitreous loss, which is associated with poor visual outcome and is used as a measure of surgical quality, the results showed that incident rates of posterior capsular tear with vitreous loss were 1.4% in the SIM group and 3.5% in the NOSIM group.

“Early and continuous implementation of mandatory virtual simulator surgical training before starting intraocular surgeries significantly decreases operative times in third year residents learning phacoemulsification compared to non-simulator trained peers,” concluded the authors.

Lopez-Beauchamp C, Singh GA, Shin SY, Magone MT. Surgical simulator training reduces operative times in resident surgeons learning phacoemulsification cataract surgery. Am J Ophthalmol Case Rep. 2019;17:100576. doi: 10.1016/j.ajoc.2019.100576.
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