Effectiveness of laparoscopic computer simulator versus usage of box trainer for endoscopic surgery training of novices

Diana L. Diesen, Loretta Erhunmwunsee, Kyla M. Bennett, Kfir Ben-David, Basil Yurcisin, Eugene P. Ceppa, Philip A. Omotosho, Alexander Perez, Aurora Pryor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

82 Scopus citations


Objective: Teaching of laparoscopic skills is a challenge in surgical training programs. Because of the highly technical nature and the steep learning curve, students and residents must learn laparoscopic skills before performing them in the operating room. To improve efficiency of learning and patient safety, research in simulation is essential. Two types of simulators currently in use include virtual reality and box trainers. Our study examined which simulator technique was most effective in teaching novice trainees laparoscopic techniques. Design: This is a prospective, randomized, blinded, controlled trial that enrolled fourth-year medical students and surgical interns to participate in a supervised 6-month laparoscopic training program with either computer simulators or box trainers. Subjects were randomized and trained on appropriate laparoscopic camera skills, instrument handling, object positioning, dissection, ligation, suturing, and knot tying. Students within one group were not allowed to practice, learn or train on the opposing trainers. At time points 0, 2, and 6 months all subjects completed a series of laparoscopic exercises in a live porcine model, which were captured on DVD and scored by blinded expert investigators. Results: Scores improved overall from the pretest to subsequent tests after training with no difference between the virtual reality and box simulator groups. In the medical students specifically, there was overall improvement, and improvement in the needle-transfer and knot-tying skills specifically, with no difference between the box simulator and virtual reality groups. For the interns, both groups showed significant overall improvement with no difference between the virtual reality and box simulator groups or on individual skills. Conclusions: We conclude that laparoscopic simulator training improves surgical skills in novice trainees. We found both the box trainers and the virtual reality simulators are equally effective means of teaching laparoscopic skills to novice learners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-289
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011



  • box trainers
  • laparoscopy
  • simulators
  • training
  • virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education

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