Non-technical skills including teamwork play a pivotal role in surgical outcomes. Virtual reality is effective at improving technical skills, however there is a paucity of evidence on team-based virtual reality (VR) training. This study aimed to assess if multiplayer virtual reality training was superior to solo training for acquisition of both technical and non-technical skills in learning the complex anterior approach total hip arthroplasty operation.
10 novice surgeons and 10 novice scrub nurses, were randomised to solo or team virtual reality training to perform anterior approach total hip arthroplasty. Solo participants trained with virtual avatar counterparts, whilst teams trained in pairs (surgeon and scrub nurse). Both groups underwent 5 VR training sessions over 6 weeks. Then, they underwent a real-life assessment in which they performed AA-THA on a high-fidelity model with real equipment in a simulated operating theatre. Teams performed together and solo participants were randomly paired up with a solo player of the opposite role. Videos of the assessment were marked by two blinded expert assessors. Outcomes were procedure time, procedural errors from an expert pre-defined protocol and acetabular component positioning. Non-technical skills were assessed using the NOTECHs II and NOTSS scores.
Teams were 28.11% faster than solos in the real world assessment (31.22 minutes ±2.02 vs 43.43 ±2.71, p=0.01), with 34.91% less errors (−15.25 errors ±3.09 vs −23.43 ±1.84, p=0.04). Teams had significantly higher NOTSS and NOTECHS II scores when compared to solos (p<0.001). 8/10 surgeons placed the acetabular component within the target safe zone
Multiplayer training appears to lead to faster surgery with fewer technical errors and the development of superior non-technical skills. VR learnt skills appear to translate to the physical world. This supports the application of multidisciplinary learning to create a more integrated approach to surgical team training