Content and construct validation of a robotic surgery curriculum using an electromagnetic instrument tracker

Timothy J. Tausch, Timothy M. Kowalewski, Lee W. White, Patrick S. McDonough, Timothy C. Brand, Thomas S. Lendvay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Purpose: Rapid adoption of robot-assisted surgery has outpaced our ability to train novice roboticists. Objective metrics are required to adequately assess robotic surgical skills and yet surrogates for proficiency, such as economy of motion and tool path metrics, are not readily accessible directly from the da Vinci® robot system. The trakSTAR™ Tool Tip Tracker is a widely available, cost-effective electromagnetic position sensing mechanism by which objective proficiency metrics can be quantified. We validated a robotic surgery curriculum using the trakSTAR device to objectively capture robotic task proficiency metrics. Materials and Methods: Through an institutional review board approved study 10 subjects were recruited from 2 surgical experience groups (novice and experienced). All subjects completed 3 technical skills modules, including block transfer, intracorporeal suturing/knot tying (fundamentals of laparoscopic surgery) and ring tower transfer, using the da Vinci robot with the trakSTAR device affixed to the robotic instruments. Recorded objective metrics included task time and path length, which were used to calculate economy of motion. Student t test statistics were performed using STATA®. Results: The novice and experienced groups consisted of 5 subjects each. The experienced group outperformed the novice group in all 3 tasks. Experienced surgeons described the simulator platform as useful for training and agreed with incorporating it into a residency curriculum. Conclusions: Robotic surgery curricula can be validated by an off-the-shelf instrument tracking system. This platform allows surgical educators to objectively assess trainees and may provide credentialing offices with a means of objectively assessing any surgical staff member seeking robotic surgery privileges at an institution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-923
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by the United States Army Medical Research and Materiel Command under Award W81XWH-09-1-0714 (TSL).


  • benchmarking
  • instrumentation
  • minimally invasive
  • robotics
  • surgical procedures
  • validation studies


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