Validation of the VBLaST pattern cutting task: a learning curve study

Ali M. Linsk, Kimberley R. Monden, Ganesh Sankaranarayanan, Woojin Ahn, Daniel B. Jones, Suvranu De, Steven D. Schwaitzberg, Caroline G.L. Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Mastery of laparoscopic skills is essential in surgical practice and requires considerable time and effort to achieve. The Virtual Basic Laparoscopic Skill Trainer (VBLaST-PC © ) is a virtual simulator that was developed as a computerized version of the pattern cutting (PC) task in the Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) system. To establish convergent validity for the VBLaST-PC © , we assessed trainees’ learning curves using the cumulative summation (CUSUM) method and compared them with those on the FLS. Methods: Twenty-four medical students were randomly assigned to an FLS training group, a VBLaST training group, or a control group. Fifteen training sessions, 30 min in duration per session per day, were conducted over 3 weeks. All subjects completed pretest, posttest, and retention test (2 weeks after posttest) on both the FLS and VBLaST © simulators. Performance data, including time, error, FLS score, learning rate, learning plateau, and CUSUM score, were analyzed. Results: The learning curve for all trained subjects demonstrated increasing performance and a performance plateau. CUSUM analyses showed that five of the seven subjects reached the intermediate proficiency level but none reached the expert proficiency level after 150 practice trials. Performance was significantly improved after simulation training, but only in the assigned simulator. No significant decay of skills after 2 weeks of disuse was observed. Control subjects did not show any learning on the FLS simulator, but improved continually in the VBLaST simulator. Conclusions: Although VBLaST © - and FLS-trained subjects demonstrated similar learning rates and plateaus, the majority of subjects required more than 150 trials to achieve proficiency. Trained subjects demonstrated improved performance in only the assigned simulator, indicating specificity of training. The virtual simulator may provide better opportunities for learning, especially with limited training exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1990-2002
Number of pages13
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This work was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIBIB R01 EB010037-01).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.


  • Convergent validity
  • Cumulative summation (CUSUM)
  • Learning curve
  • Surgical training
  • Virtual reality


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