Restrictions placed on the working hours of doctors over the past decade have resulted in substantial changes to the training and assessment of orthopaedic surgical residents. Many who are responsible for training the surgeons of the future have become concerned that this reduced clinical exposure is having a detrimental impact on technical skill acquisition. Consequently, there is a need for surgical educators to develop more objective methods for assessing surgical skill. The primary aim of this study was to determine whether a novel set of visual parameters assessing visuospatial ability, fine motor dexterity, and gaze control could objectively discriminate among various levels of arthroscopic experience. The secondary aim was to evaluate the correlations between these new parameters and previously established technical skill assessment methods.Methods:
Twenty-seven subjects were divided into a novice group (n = 7), a resident group (n = 15), and an expert group (n = 5) on the basis of arthroscopic experience. All subjects performed a diagnostic knee arthroscopy task on a simulator. Their performance was assessed with use of novel simple visual parameters that included the prevalence of instrument loss, triangulation time, and prevalence of lookdowns. Performance was also evaluated with use of previously validated technical skill assessment methods (a global rating scale and motion analysis).Results:
A significant difference in performance among the groups was demonstrated with use of all three novel visual parameters, the global rating scale, and motion analysis (p < 0.05). There were strong and highly significant correlations (p < 0.0001) between each of the novel parameters and the previously validated skill assessment methods.Conclusions:
This study demonstrates the construct validity of three novel visual parameters for objectively assessing arthroscopic performance. These parameters are simple, can be used easily in the operating room, and are strongly correlated with current validated methods of technical skill assessment.Clinical Relevance:
The identification of objective methods for evaluating technical skill in arthroscopic surgery is of paramount importance. The generic nature of the simple visual parameters in this study makes them a powerful and user-friendly objective assessment tool that may offer an alternative to existing assessment methods.