Expert laparoscopist performance on virtual reality simulation tasks with and without haptic features

Author Department

Surgery; Patient Care Services

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



Background: Virtual reality (VR) simulation for laparoscopic training is available with and without haptic feedback features. Currently, there is limited data on haptic feedback's effect on skill development. Our objective is to compare expert laparoscopists' skills characteristics using VR delivered laparoscopic tasks via haptic and nonhaptic laparoscopic surgical interfaces.

Methods: Five expert laparoscopists performed seven skills tasks on two laparoscopic simulators, one with and one without haptic features. Tasks consisted of 2-handed instrument navigation, retraction and exposure, cutting, electrosurgery, and complicated object positioning. Laparoscopists alternated platforms at default difficulty settings. Metrics included time, economy of movement, completed task elements, and errors. Progressive change in performance for the final three iterations were determined by repeated measures ANOVA. Iteration quartile means were determined and compared using paired t-tests.

Results: No change in performance was noted in the last three iterations for any metric. There were no significant differences between platforms on the final two quartiles for most metrics except avoidance of over-stretch error for retraction; and cutting task was significantly better with haptics on all iteration quartiles (p < 0.03). Economy of movement was significantly better with haptics for both hands for clip application (p < 0.01) and better for right hand on complex object positioning (p < 0.05). Accuracy was better with haptics for retraction and cutting (p < 0.05) and clip application (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: Results showed higher performance in accuracy, efficient instrument motion, and avoidance of excessive traction force on selected tasks performed on VR simulator with haptic feedback compared to those performed without haptics feedback. Laparoscopic surgeons interpreted machine-generated haptic cues appropriately and resulted in better performance with VR task requirements. However, our results do not demonstrate an advantage in skills acquisition, which requires additional study.

Keywords: Haptic feedback; Surgical simulation; Virtual reality.