What are essential laparoscopic skills these days? Results of the SAGES Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) Committee technical skills survey

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Introduction: The Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) program tests basic knowledge and skills required to perform laparoscopic surgery. Educational experiences in laparoscopic training and development of associated competencies have evolved since FLS inception, making it important to review the definition of fundamental laparoscopic skills. The Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) assigned an FLS Technical Skills Working Group to characterize technical skills used in basic laparoscopic surgery in current practice contexts and their possible application to future FLS tests.

Methods: A group of subject matter experts defined an inventory of 65 laparoscopic skills using a Nominal Group Technique. From these, a survey was developed rating these items for importance, frequency of use, and priority for testing for FLS certification. This survey was distributed to SAGES members, recent recipients of FLS certification, and members of the Association of Program Directors in Surgery (APDS). Results were collected using a secure web-based survey platform.

Results: Complete data were available for 1742 surveys. Of these, 1143 comprised results for post-residency participants who performed advanced procedures. Seventeen competencies were identified for FLS testing prioritization by determining the proportion of respondents who identified them of highest priority, at median (50th percentile) of the maximum survey scale rating. These included basic peritoneal access, laparoscope and instrument use, tissue manipulation, and specific problem management skills. Sixteen could be used to show appropriateness of the domain construct by confirmatory factor analysis. Of these 8 could be characterized as manipulative tasks. Of these 5 mapped to current FLS tasks.

Conclusions: This survey-identified competencies, some of which are currently assessed in FLS, with a high level of priority for testing. Further work is needed to determine if this should prompt consideration of changes or additions to the FLS technical skills test component.

Keywords: Laparoscopic skills; Skills assessment; Surgical competency.