Crossover-effects in technical skills between laparoscopy and robot-assisted surgery

Sem F. Hardon*, E. Willuth, A. Masie Rahimi, F. Lang, Caelan M. Haney, Eleni A. Felinska, Karl Friedrich Kowalewski, Beat P. Müller-Stich, Donald L. van der Peet, Freek Daams, F. Nickel, Tim Horeman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Introduction: Robot-assisted surgery is often performed by experienced laparoscopic surgeons. However, this technique requires a different set of technical skills and surgeons are expected to alternate between these approaches. The aim of this study is to investigate the crossover effects when switching between laparoscopic and robot-assisted surgery. Methods: An international multicentre crossover study was conducted. Trainees with distinctly different levels of experience were divided into three groups (novice, intermediate, expert). Each trainee performed six trials of a standardized suturing task using a laparoscopic box trainer and six trials using the da Vinci surgical robot. Both systems were equipped with the ForceSense system, measuring five force-based parameters for objective assessment of tissue handling skills. Statistical comparison was done between the sixth and seventh trial to identify transition effects. Unexpected changes in parameter outcomes after the seventh trial were further investigated. Results: A total of 720 trials, performed by 60 participants, were analysed. The expert group increased their tissue handling forces with 46% (maximum impulse 11.5 N/s to 16.8 N/s, p = 0.05), when switching from robot-assisted surgery to laparoscopy. When switching from laparoscopy to robot-assisted surgery, intermediates and experts significantly decreased in motion efficiency (time (sec), resp. 68 vs. 100, p = 0.05, and 44 vs. 84, p = 0.05). Further investigation between the seventh and ninth trial showed that the intermediate group increased their force exertion with 78% (5.1 N vs. 9.1 N, p = 0.04), when switching to robot-assisted surgery. Conclusion: The crossover effects in technical skills between laparoscopic and robot-assisted surgery are highly depended on the prior experience with laparoscopic surgery. Where experts can alternate between approaches without impairment of technical skills, novices and intermediates should be aware of decay in efficiency of movement and tissue handling skills that could impact patient safety. Therefore, additional simulation training is advised to prevent from undesired events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6015-6024
JournalSurgical Endoscopy
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Assessment
  • Crossover effects
  • Laparoscopy
  • Patient safety
  • Robot-assisted surgery
  • Technical skills

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