Surgical simulation: a urological perspective.
PURPOSE: Surgical education is changing rapidly as several factors including budget constraints and medicolegal concerns limit opportunities for urological trainees. New methods of skills training such as low fidelity bench trainers and virtual reality simulators offer new avenues for surgical education. In addition, surgical simulation has the potential to allow practicing surgeons to develop new skills and maintain those they already possess. We provide a review of the background, current status and future directions of surgical simulators as they pertain to urology. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We performed a literature review and an overview of surgical simulation in urology. RESULTS: Surgical simulators are in various stages of development and validation. Several simulators have undergone extensive validation studies and are in use in surgical curricula. While virtual reality simulators offer the potential to more closely mimic reality and present entire operations, low fidelity simulators remain useful in skills training, particularly for novices and junior trainees. Surgical simulation remains in its infancy. However, the potential to shorten learning curves for difficult techniques and practice surgery without risk to patients continues to drive the development of increasingly more advanced and realistic models. CONCLUSIONS: Surgical simulation is an exciting area of surgical education. The future is bright as advancements in computing and graphical capabilities offer new innovations in simulator technology. Simulators must continue to undergo rigorous validation studies to ensure that time spent by trainees on bench trainers and virtual reality simulators will translate into improved surgical skills in the operating room.
Wignall, GR; Denstedt, JD; Preminger, GM; Cadeddu, JA; Pearle, MS; Sweet, RM; McDougall, EM
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