Force-based assessment of tissue handling skills in simulation training for robot-assisted surgery

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Introduction: Although robotic-assisted surgery is increasingly performed, objective assessment of technical skills is lacking. The aim of this study is to provide validity evidence for objective assessment of technical skills for robotic-assisted surgery. Methods: An international multicenter study was conducted with participants from the academic hospitals Heidelberg University Hospital (Germany, Heidelberg) and the Amsterdam University Medical Centers (The Netherlands, Amsterdam). Trainees with distinctly different levels of robotic surgery experience were divided into three groups (novice, intermediate, expert) and enrolled in a training curriculum. Each trainee performed six trials of a standardized suturing task using the da Vinci Surgical System. Using the ForceSense system, five force-based parameters were analyzed, for objective assessment of tissue handling skills. Mann–Whitney U test and linear regression were used to analyze performance differences and the Wilcoxon signed-rank test to analyze skills progression. Results: A total of 360 trials, performed by 60 participants, were analyzed. Significant differences between the novices, intermediates and experts were observed regarding the total completion time (41 s vs 29 s vs 22 s p = 0.003), mean non zero force (29 N vs 33 N vs 19 N p = 0.032), maximum impulse (40 Ns vs 31 Ns vs 20 Ns p = 0.001) and force volume (38 N3 vs 32 N3 vs 22 N3p = 0.018). Furthermore, the experts showed better results in mean non-zero force (22 N vs 13 N p = 0.015), maximum impulse (24 Ns vs 17 Ns p = 0.043) and force volume (25 N3 vs 16 N3p = 0.025) compared to the intermediates (p ≤ 0.05). Lastly, learning curve improvement was observed for the total task completion time, mean non-zero force, maximum impulse and force volume (p ≤ 0.05). Conclusion: Construct validity for force-based assessment of tissue handling skills in robot-assisted surgery is established. It is advised to incorporate objective assessment and feedback in robot-assisted surgery training programs to determine technical proficiency and, potentially, to prevent tissue trauma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4414-4420
JournalSurgical Endoscopy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Force measurements
  • Objective assessment
  • Robot tissue manipulation
  • Robotic surgery training
  • Robotic-assisted surgery
  • Simulation training

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