Preliminary Evaluation of a Novel Thoracoscopic Infant Lobectomy Simulator

Barsness, K. A.; Rooney, D. M.; Davis, L. M.; O'Brien, E.

J Laparoendosc Adv Surg Tech A. 2014 Dec 24; 25(5):429-434


PURPOSE: Thoracoscopic lobectomy in infants requires advanced minimally invasive skills. Simulation-based education has the potential to improve complex procedural skills without exposing the patient to undue risks. The study purposes were (1) to create a size-appropriate infant lobectomy simulator and (2) to evaluate validity evidence to support or refute its use in surgical education. MATERIALS AND METHODS: In this Institutional Review Board-exempt study, a size-appropriate rib cage for a 3-month-old infant was created. Fetal bovine tissue completed the simulator. Thirty-three participants performed the simulated thoracoscopic lobectomy. Participants completed a self-report, 26-item instrument consisting of 25 4-point rating scales (from 1=not realistic to 4=highly realistic) and a one 4-point Global Rating Scale. Validity evidence relevant to test content and response processes was evaluated using the many-facet Rasch model, and evidence of internal structure (inter-item consistency) was estimated using Cronbach's alpha. RESULTS: Experienced surgeons (observed average=3.6) had slightly higher overall rating than novice surgeons (observed average=3.4, P=.001). The highest combined observed averages were for the domain Physical Attributes (3.7), whereas the lowest ratings were for the domains Realism of Experience and Ability to Perform Tasks (3.4). The global rating was 2.9, consistent with "this simulator can be considered for use in infant lobectomy training, but could be improved slightly." Inter-item consistency for items used to evaluate the simulator's quality was high (alpha=0.90). CONCLUSIONS: With ratings consistent with high physical attributes and realism, we successfully created an infant lobectomy simulator, and preliminary evidence relevant to test content, response processes, and internal structure was supported. Participants rated the model as realistic, relevant to clinical practice, and valuable as a learning tool. Minor improvements were suggested prior to its full implementation as an educational and testing tool.

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