Background: The value of robotic assistance for intracorporeal suturing is not well defined. We compared robotic suturing with laparoscopic suturing on the FLS model with a large cohort of surgeons. Methods: Attendees (n = 117) at the SAGES 2006 Learning Center robotic station placed intracorporeal sutures on the FLS box-trainer model using conventional laparoscopic instruments and the da Vinci® robot. Participant performance was recorded using a validated objective scoring system, and a questionnaire regarding demographics, task workload, and suturing modality preference was completed. Construct validity for both tasks was assessed by comparing the performance scores of subjects with various levels of experience. A validated questionnaire was used for workload measurement. Results: Of the participants, 84% had prior laparoscopic and 10% prior robotic suturing experience. Within the allotted time, 83% of participants completed the suturing task laparoscopically and 72% with the robot. Construct validity was demonstrated for both simulated tasks according to the participants' advanced laparoscopic experience, laparoscopic suturing experience, and self-reported laparoscopic suturing ability (p < 0.001 for all) and according to prior robotic experience, robotic suturing experience, and self-reported robotic suturing ability (p < 0.001 for all), respectively. While participants achieved higher suturing scores with standard laparoscopy compared with the robot (84 ± 75 vs. 56 ± 63, respectively; p < 0.001), they found the laparoscopic task more physically demanding (NASA score 13 ± 5 vs. 10 ± 5, respectively; p < 0.001) and favored the robot as their method of choice for intracorporeal suturing (62 vs. 38%, respectively; p < 0.01). Conclusions: Construct validity was demonstrated for robotic suturing on the FLS model. Suturing scores were higher using standard laparoscopy likely as a result of the participants' greater experience with laparoscopic suturing versus robotic suturing. Robotic assistance decreases the physical demand of intracorporeal suturing compared with conventional laparoscopy and, in this study, was the preferred suturing method by most surgeons. Curricula for robotic suturing training need to be developed.
- SAGES learning center
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