Periodic Kinesthetic Guidance Cannot Expedite Learning Surgical Skills

Introduction. Connecting multiple haptic devices in a master-slave fashion enables us to deliver kinesthetic (haptic) feedback from 1 person to another. This study examined whether inter-user feedback delivered from an expert to a novice would facilitate skill acquisition of the novice in learning laparoscopic surgery and expedite it compared to traditional methods. Methods. We recruited fourteen novices and divided them into 1 of 2 training groups with 6 half-hour training sessions. The task was precision cutting adopted from one of the tasks listed in Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery using laparoscopic instruments. In the haptic feedback group (haptic), 8 subjects had the chance to passively feel an expert’s performance before they started to practice in each training session. In the self-learning group (control), 6 subjects watched a video before practicing. Each session was video recorded, and task performance was measured by task completion time, number of grasper adjustments, and instrument crossings. Cutting accuracy, defined as the percentage of deviation of the cutting line from the predefined line, was analyzed via computer analysis. Results. Results show no significant difference among performance measures between the 2 groups. Participants performed similarly when practicing alone or with periodic haptic feedback. Discussion. Further research will be needed for improving our way of integrating between-person haptic feedback with skills training protocol.