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Virtual Operating Room for Team Training in Surgery


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Virtual Operating Room for Team Training in Surgery

  1. 1. Virtual operating room for team training in surgery Jonathan S. Abelson, M.D.a, *, Elliott Silverman, P.A.a , Jason Banfelderb , Alexandra Naidesb , Ricardo Costaa , Gregory Dakin, M.D.a a Department of Surgery, New York Presbyterian HospitaldWeill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY 10068, USA; b Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA KEYWORDS: Virtual reality simulation; Team training; Surgery; Operating room Abstract BACKGROUND: We proposed to develop a novel virtual reality (VR) team training system. The objective of this study was to determine the feasibility of creating a VR operating room to simulate a surgical crisis scenario and evaluate the simulator for construct and face validity. METHODS: We modified ICE STORM (Integrated Clinical Environment; Systems, Training, Oper- ations, Research, Methods), a VR-based system capable of modeling a variety of health care personnel and environments. ICE STORM was used to simulate a standardized surgical crisis scenario, whereby participants needed to correct 4 elements responsible for loss of laparoscopic visualization. The construct and face validity of the environment were measured. RESULTS: Thirty-three participants completed the VR simulation. Attendings completed the simu- lation in less time than trainees (271 vs 201 seconds, P 5 .032). Participants felt the training environ- ment was realistic and had a favorable impression of the simulation. All participants felt the workload of the simulation was low. CONCLUSIONS: Creation of a VR-based operating room for team training in surgery is feasible and can afford a realistic team training environment. Ó 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. The benefits of simulation in surgery are well docu- mented, allowing trainees to achieve proficiency in shorter times, acquire news skills, and retain skills, all in environ- ments that are inexpensive, reproducible, and safe.1–12 With the abundance of evidence to support simulation, surgical residency programs have rapidly adapted inanimate training into their curricula, with most programs staffing full-time simulation centers.4,13–15 The American College of Sur- geons has recognized the value of simulation in surgery and has developed an extensive accreditation program for simulation centers. Most of the focus in surgical simulation has been on task training of surgical skills, ranging from knot tying to chest- tube insertion to flexible endoscopy. Perhaps the most salient example is laparoscopic surgical skill training, whereby a systematic course of box trainer–based laparoscopic tasks has proved so effective, and the course has been mandated for certification by the American Board of Surgery.16 However, technical skill is only one aspect of being an effective This study was funded in part by Lockheed Martin. * Corresponding author. Tel.: 11-914-980-4530; fax: 11-212-746- 5236. E-mail address: Manuscript received November 26, 2014; revised manuscript January 7, 2015 0002-9610/$ - see front matter Ó 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. The American Journal of Surgery (2015) -, -–-
  2. 2. surgeon. Furthermore, the surgeon is only one part of the team necessary to deliver effective surgical care. Successfully performing an operation requires the co- ordinated teamwork of the surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurses, hospital staff, and clinical information systems. Recognizing the importance of teamwork in the operating room (OR) has led educators to move from the relatively simplistic training of surgical tasks to the more complicated world of whole team training in the surgical environ- ment.17–19 Team training in surgery involves creation of a simulated OR, in which combinations of real equipment coupled with mannequins and computerized integration allow a human team to recreate real-life operative sce- narios. The American College of Surgeons has created a se- ries of standardized OR situations that can be used in training.16 Several groups have reported success with multidisci- plinary OR simulation.20–22 Others although have had diffi- culty executing such simulation secondary to cost and space requirements.13,23 Furthermore, with limited duty hours, it can be difficult to assemble the necessary team members to undergo the training. These factors have limited the widespread use of team training simulations in surgery compared with the relatively simple task training that has been widely adapted. We hypothesized that VR software can offer realistic team training environments that overcome some of the current limitations. Therefore, we proposed to create a multiuser interactive environment in which both team-based skill coupled with surgical decision making can be simulated, critiqued, and evaluated. Lockheed Martin Corporation (Oswego, NY), well known for its military-based simulation and training programs, has developed a VR-based environ- ment for use in medical training called ICE STORM (Inte- grated Clinical Environment; Systems, Training, Operations, Research, Methods). The objective of this pilot study was to determine the feasibility of modifying the ICE STORM VR OR to simulate a standardized surgical crisis scenario and evaluate the simulator for construct and face validity.24,25 Methods The existing ICE STORM platform contains all the equipment and personnel necessary to simulate a variety of scenarios in a virtual OR. A core team of researchers from both Lockheed Martin and Weill Cornell Medical College (New York, NY) was established to modify ICE STORM to simulate an intraoperative crisis scenario. In addition to modeling the necessary elements of this crisis scenario, additional software was created to allow a human proctor to serve as an interface between study participants and the virtual world. The interface software used a standard iPad (Apple Inc., Cupertino, CA) to allow a human proctor to modify the simulation environment as necessary during the course of the training exercise, depending on the partici- pant’s responses. The laparoscopic troubleshooting module is a team training scenario published by the American College of Surgeons and has been previously validated.16 The full module is beyond the scope of this pilot project and entails a comprehensive team of surgeon, assistant surgeon, nurses, and anesthesiologist working through several crisis situa- tions while performing a standard laparoscopic operation. In this project, the focus was narrowed to a small portion of the module, called ‘‘loss of laparoscopic visualization.’’ This scenario was then programmed into the modified ICE STORM platform. In the ‘‘loss of laparoscopic visualization’’ scenario, the team was performing a laparoscopic cholecystectomy and the laparoscopic monitor suddenly went dim. It was the job of the operating surgeon to troubleshoot the problem and return the monitor to working form. There were several possible problems that the participant, functioning as the operating surgeon, had to identify and check to restore function to the monitor. Each participant was required to perform 4 mandatory treatments: (1) check camera box and cord; (2) check light-source box and cord; (3) check (clean/inspect) or replace laparoscope (use spare); and (4) exchange and use spare camera. Participants were evalu- ated by time to completion of the simulation. Participants were given a ‘‘pass’’ if they completed all mandatory treat- ments in less than 270 seconds. This number was based on preliminary analysis of test subjects. Participants, acting as the surgeon, interacted with the VR world using the Gyration Air Mouse (SMK-Link Electronics, Camarillo, CA; Supplementary Fig. 1) to manipulate the surgeon avatar and interacted with the hu- man proctor administrating the study by simply speaking aloud. The proctor then used the proctor-tool software on a standard iPad (Apple Inc.) to make modifications to the VR world (eg, participant instructs nurse to replace the laparoscope, the proctor enters the appropriate command, and then the nurse avatar replaces the laparoscope). Suc- cessful completion of the module was achieved when the participant identified all 4 of the critical elements that could lead to loss of visualization. No matter what order a partic- ipant identified the element, the simulation would not end until all 4 components were identified and correctly acted on. This concept, known as the ‘‘full cycle test,’’ ensured that all participants would demonstrate a complete under- standing of the most critical elements of the trouble- shooting scenario and eliminated the possibility that the participant could end the simulation simply by picking the ‘‘correct’’ cause of failure on the first try. Metric data from the simulation exercise were used to evaluate the construct validity of the virtual system. Three methods were used to determine the face validity: Likert scale questionnaires (Table 1), the Bedford Workload Scale (Supplementary Fig. 2), and the modified NASA-Task Load Index (NASA-TLX) scale (Supplementary Fig. 3). Subjects included attending surgeons (experts) and residents and medical students combined (trainees). Statistical analysis was conducted using SPSS 12.0 statistical software (IBM, 2 The American Journal of Surgery, Vol -, No -, - 2015
  3. 3. New York, NY). Specific modalities used were Fisher exact test, ANOVA, and t tests. Metric data were analyzed using the Fisher exact test comparing pass–fail rates and time to completion because the sample size was low. Seven-point Likert scale questionnaires were used to assess a variety of opinions, including participants’ impres- sion of the virtual environment with regard to realism, beliefs on whether the system would improve performance in the OR, and inclination to use the system in the future26 (Table 1). Median scores were used to determine a central tendency. Independent-sample Mann–Whitney test was used to detect any difference in the median scores between trainees and attendings. We also performed a 1-sample Whitney–Wilcoxon signed rank test comparing median scores against the midpoint of the evaluation scale (ie, 4). The aim of this analysis was to reveal whether the trainees’ evaluations were above the midpoint of the scale (ie, posi- tive) or below it (ie, negative).19 The Bedford Workload scale is an unidimensional rating scale designed to identify operator’s spare mental capacity while completing a task.27 The single dimension is assessed using a hierarchical decision tree. Supplementary Fig. 2 ex- plains the scoring system from workload 1 to 10. Independent-sample Mann–Whitney test was used to detect any difference between workload scores of attendings vs trainees. One-sample Wilcoxon signed rank test was calcu- lated to understand any difference between the scores of all participants against the midpoint of the scale, which was 5. The modified NASA-TLX is a subjective, multidimen- sional, validated assessment tool that rates perceived workload on 6 different subscales: Mental Demand, Physical Demand, Temporal Demand, Performance, Effort, and Frustration.28 Results are combined but not weighted. Supplementary Fig. 3 reveals each category investigated and the scaling system. An independent-sample Mann– Whitney test was used to detect any difference between workload scores of attendings vs trainees. The 1-sample Wilcoxon signed rank test was calculated to understand any difference between the scores of all participants against the midpoint of the scale, which was 10. Results A total of 33 participants, including 26 trainees and 7 attendings, completed the virtual simulation. Attendings completed the simulation is less time than trainees (201 vs 271 seconds, P 5 .032; Fig. 1). A higher percentage of at- tendings passed the simulation compared with trainees although this was not statistically different (86% vs 58%, P 5 .223). Eleven questions were included in the Likert scale questionnaire. Those questions that pertain directly to opinions on the VR simulation are reviewed here (questions 1, 2, and 7 to 11). Those questions that addressed background information on participants’ surgical experi- ence or previous virtual world experience are not discussed in this section (questions 3 to 6; Table 1). Overall, participants agreed that they liked the simulator (median 5 5, P 5 .000) and disagreed with the statement that they disliked the simulator (median 5 2, P 5 .000). Study participants felt that the training environment was realistic (median 5 5, P 5 .014) and did not feel that communication in the environment was difficult (median 5 2, P 5 .000). However, participants did not feel that the simulation would improve their performance (median 5 4, P 5 .534). Furthermore, they did not agree that they would like to do VR training before going to the OR (median 5 4, P 5 .607). Using the Bedford Workload scale, 82% of all partici- pants felt that the workload was either low or that they had enough spare capacity for desirable additional tasks (Fig. 2). Using the modified NASA-TLX scale, all Table 1 Likert scale results Likert scale question number Median P value* 1. The training environment was realistic† 5 .014 2. This course will improve my performance in the OR† 4 .534 3. How would you rate your prior virtual world?‡ 1 .000 4. How would you rate your surgical experience level?x 4 .073 5. How often do you use surgical simulation training modules?‡ 3 .001 6. How would you rate your experience with non-surgical virtual world?x 3 .001 7. The VR training module differed greatly from other non–computer-based communication training modules† 4 .911 8. I liked the VR training environment† 5 .000 9. I did not like the VR training environment† 2 .000 10. I found it difficult to communicate using the VR training environment† 2 .000 11. I would like to do VR training prior to going to the OR† 4 .607 *One-sample Whitney–Wilcoxon signed rank test value to determine if the median score was different from the midpoint of the scale, which was 4. † Scoring system: 1 5 strongly disagree, 4 5 moderately agree, 7 5 strongly agree. ‡ Scoring system: 1 5 never, 4 5 moderate, 7 5 very often. x Scoring system: 1 5 novice, 4 5 moderate, 7 5 expert. J.S. Abelson et al. Virtual OR for team training in surgery 3
  4. 4. participants were found to have minimal mental, physical, and temporal demand. Likewise, none of the participants reported requiring a high amount of effort to complete the simulation (Fig. 3). Finally, there was no statistically significant difference in responses between attendings and trainees for all responses in the Likert scale, Bedford Workload scale, and Modified NASA-TLX scale. Comments The OR is a dynamic, high-risk environment where successful delivery of care depends on the co-ordinated action of surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, hospital staff, and clinical information. With the increasing complexity of surgical instrumentation and patient disease, efficient OR processes and teamwork will become more important. The value of teamwork among medical professionals is well documented. Failures in co-ordination and communication of information among hospital clinicians have been asso- ciated with worse outcomes,29–31 longer lengths of stay, and higher nurse turnover in intensive care units32 and greater postoperative pain with lower functioning levels for patients33–35 across specialties. Surgical teams at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals with low mortal- ity rates communicate more effectively and more often than surgical teams associated with high mortality rates.36 In a study of anesthetic-related errors, 80% of occurrences were considered preventable with human error accounting for 75% of them.37 Studies in cardiac surgery show the clear impact of human factors in ‘‘near misses’’ in the high technology OR.38 Primary teamwork competencies, including knowledge, skill, and attitudes, positively correlate to effective teamwork and patient safety.39,40 However, these competencies of effec- tive teamwork are often lacking in the modern OR. Surveys evaluating surgeons working with anesthesiologists have sug- gested that substandard collaboration occurs 50% of the time.41 Other studies have discovered discrepancy in OR team members’ views on appropriate team structure and importance of effective communication.42,43 The aviation in- dustry noted years ago that 70% of errors were because of pre- ventable human factors, such as failed interpersonal communication, decision making, and leadership.44 This led tothedevelopmentofcrewresourcemanagementtrainingpro- grams that use simulator-based training to understand the lim- itations of human performance and to develop a culture of safety.45 Anesthesiologists have addressed human factors in errors by developing simulators to train staff during anesthetic crises, allowing participants to integrate technical and team training skills with feedback on their performance.46–49 Given the importance of teamwork and communication in the OR, several groups are investigating the role offull-scale OR simu- lation to both study and improve these skills.17,21,22 The ulti- mate goals of such simulation include not only training of participants but identification of factors important to overall team performance and improved efficiency of OR systems. In this study, we created an interactive environment to simulate both team-based skills and surgical decision making. This virtual environment might ultimately enable simulation of a variety of OR circumstances, from patient transfer, to hand-off, to intraoperative crisis scenarios. A multiuser virtual world could ultimately be linked to operable surgical procedure simulation platforms to allow full-scale simulation of both surgical procedures and team dynamics. Once a complex OR system is modeled, we Figure 1 Average simulation completion times, attendings vs trainees. *P 5 .032. Figure 2 Bedford workload scale: all participants. Figure 3 Modified NASA-TLX: all participants. 4 The American Journal of Surgery, Vol -, No -, - 2015
  5. 5. could not only train personnel but would be able to investigate clinical practices and identify inefficiencies with the benefits of speed, safety, measurability, reproduc- ibility, and reduced cost afforded by advanced simulation. This study set out to test such a virtual environment by modifying the ICE STORM technology created by Lockheed Martin. The objective of this pilot study was to determine the feasibility of creating a VR OR to simulate a standardized surgical crisis scenario and evaluate the simulator for construct and face validity. Our results confirm that the VR simulator was capable of simulating the American College of Surgeons ‘‘Loss of laparoscopic visualization’’ scenario. Metric data revealed that attend- ings completed the simulation in less time, thus confirming construct validity. Attendings and trainees liked the simu- lator, felt that it was realistic, easy to communicate with, and similar to other non–computer-based, communication-based training modules, thus confirming face validity. However, they did not believe it would improve their performance in the OR, possibly because of the short simulation session. If the simulation incorporated the entire laparoscopic troubleshooting scenario, it is possible that participants would feel that their experience was more useful in their preparation for the OR. Further- more, participants did not want to complete the VR training before going to the OR. Again this may be because of the limited scope of the pilot simulation. It also may reflect the current lack of experience and acceptance using VR simulation. This will likely require a culture change once VR simulation gains more traction. Using the Bedford Workload Scale, we found that the simulator did not create excessive workload for partici- pants, allowing spare capacity for additional tasks. Finally, using the Modified NASA-TLX scale, we showed that the simulator was neither significantly mentally or physically demanding nor exceedingly frustrating or stressful to use. There are several limitations of this study. First, our sample size is low, and further research is needed with more participants. Second, although the simulator is equipped to accommodate multiple participants simultaneously, this study only investigated one participant at a time. The benefit of having multiple participants present at once is clear as surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses would be able to interact with each other in real time to troubleshoot common OR problems. This would force the team to establish a shared goal and shared mental model of the situation, maintain situational awareness as the situation evolves, and communicate with each other professionally so that all members of the team may contribute thoughts in the best interest of the patient. By simplifying the simulation in its current form, we might be overestimating the feasibility and ease of use. Future models will address these limitations by incorporating multiple participants in each scenario. Only then can VR simulation be compared directly with current live simulations to determine if VR is as effective in team training. Eliminating the human proctor tool is also necessary to achieve a program that would meet the demands of today’s training needs by reducing the workload required of those institutions performing the training. The scenario would still need to be programmed to maximize learning by evolving such that the participants would be forced to attempt all possible solutions to successfully complete the simulation. Furthermore, this would contribute to create a fully simulated environment allowing participants to use the system in remote locations, possibly achieving a completely immersive ‘‘holodeck,’’ like that seen in ‘‘Star Trek.’’ As this is a pilot study, we opted to simulate a relatively simplescenario.Certainlyfuturestudieswouldneedtosimulate more complex and stressful scenarios to fully demonstrate the utility of an integrated VR system as a training instrument. Finally, a key component to team training simulation is automatic debriefing of participants after the simulation. This will culminate in fully functional team training environment with widespread appeal. We conclude that it is feasible to simulate the OR environment using VR and replicate a standardized surgical crisis scenario. This VR simulation serves as a proof-of- concept for construct and face validity; however, more study is necessary to increase the capability of the simulation and apply it to the entire OR team. Supplementary data Supplementary data related with this article can be found at References 1. Al Jamal YN, Ali SM, Ruparel RK, et al. The rationale for combining an online audiovisual curriculum with simulation to better educate general surgery trainees. Surgery 2014;156:723–8. 2. Araujo SE, Delaney CP, Seid VE, et al. Short-duration virtual reality simulation training positively impacts performance during laparo- scopic colectomy in animal model: results of a single-blinded random- ized trial: VR warm-up for laparoscopic colectomy. Surg Endosc 2014; 28:2547–54. 3. Brooks KD, Acton RD, Hemesath K, et al. 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