Desktop simulator: Key to universal training?
Background: Training of skills in simulators is preferred over learning on patients so as to avoid undue injury to patients and to allow more efficient use of resources. Most simulators are costly and require a dedicated space. The aim of this study was to evaluate a simple desktop simulator, the Mirror Trainer. Methods: Thirty medical students were randomly assigned to three groups. One group was taught laparoscopic suturing in the Mirror Trainer, the second group used a pelvic training box, while the third group served as a control group and did not receive any training. All suture attempts during training were recorded on video. A blinded, independent investigator analyzed the videos. At the completion of training, the suturing skills of each participant were evaluated in an animal model. Results: Training with the Mirror Trainer required less time than with the pelvic trainer (p < 0.001). Compared with the control group, the Mirror Trainer group and the pelvic trainer group were significantly faster at creating three knots in the pig (p = 0.001 and p = 0.004, respectively). Both training groups performed equally well on the animal model (p = 0.99). Conclusion: The Mirror Trainer and the pelvic trainer are equally effective in teaching laparoscopic suturing skills but training with the Mirror Trainer requires less time, can be done on any desktop, and is less costly.