Training safer orthopedic surgeons. Construct validation of a virtual-reality simulator for hip fracture surgery.
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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Virtual-reality (VR) simulation in orthopedic training is still in its infancy, and much of the work has been focused on arthroscopy. We evaluated the construct validity of a new VR trauma simulator for performing dynamic hip screw (DHS) fixation of a trochanteric femoral fracture. PATIENTS AND METHODS: 30 volunteers were divided into 3 groups according to the number of postgraduate (PG) years and the amount of clinical experience: novice (1-4 PG years; less than 10 DHS procedures); intermediate (5-12 PG years; 10-100 procedures); expert (> 12 PG years; > 100 procedures). Each participant performed a DHS procedure and objective performance metrics were recorded. These data were analyzed with each performance metric taken as the dependent variable in 3 regression models. RESULTS: There were statistically significant differences in performance between groups for (1) number of attempts at guide-wire insertion, (2) total fluoroscopy time, (3) tip-apex distance, (4) probability of screw cutout, and (5) overall simulator score. The intermediate group performed the procedure most quickly, with the lowest fluoroscopy time, the lowest tip-apex distance, the lowest probability of cutout, and the highest simulator score, which correlated with their frequency of exposure to running the trauma lists for hip fracture surgery. INTERPRETATION: This study demonstrates the construct validity of a haptic VR trauma simulator with surgeons undertaking the procedure most frequently performing best on the simulator. VR simulation may be a means of addressing restrictions on working hours and allows trainees to practice technical tasks without putting patients at risk. The VR DHS simulator evaluated in this study may provide valid assessment of technical skill.