Virtual reality simulators: Valuable surgical skills trainers or video games?

Ross E. Willis, Pedro Pablo Gomez, Srinivas J. Ivatury, Hari S. Mitra, Kent R. Van Sickle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background Virtual reality (VR) and physical model (PM) simulators differ in terms of whether the trainee is manipulating actual 3-dimensional objects (PM) or computer-generated 3-dimensional objects (VR). Much like video games (VG), VR simulators utilize computer-generated graphics. These differences may have profound effects on the utility of VR and PM training platforms. In this study, we aimed to determine whether a relationship exists between VR, PM, and VG platforms. Methods VR and PM simulators for laparoscopic camera navigation ([LCN], experiment 1) and flexible endoscopy ([FE] experiment 2) were used in this study. In experiment 1, 20 laparoscopic novices played VG and performed 0° and 30° LCN exercises on VR and PM simulators. In experiment 2, 20 FE novices played VG and performed colonoscopy exercises on VR and PM simulators. Results In both experiments, VG performance was correlated with VR performance but not with PM performance. Performance on VR simulators did not correlate with performance on respective PM models. Conclusions VR environments may be more like VG than previously thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)426-433
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • physical model
  • simulation
  • surgical education
  • virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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