A review of virtual reality based training simulators for orthopaedic surgery.
Previous investigation of a cost-effective virtual reality arthroscopic training system, the Sheffield Knee Arthroscopy Training System (SKATS), indicated the desirability of including haptic feedback. A formal task analysis confirmed the importance of knee positioning as a core skill for trainees learning to navigate the knee arthroscopically. The system cost and existing limb interface, which permits knee positioning, would be compromised by the addition of commercial active haptic devices available currently. The validation results obtained when passive haptic feedback (resistance provided by physical structures) is provided indicate that SKATS has construct, predictive and face validity for navigation and triangulation training. When tested using SKATS, experienced surgeons (n = 11) performed significantly faster, located significantly more pathologies, and showed significantly shorter arthroscope path lengths than a less experienced surgeon cohort (n = 12). After SKATS training sessions, novices (n = 3) showed significant improvements in: task completion time, shorter arthroscope path lengths, shorter probe path lengths, and fewer arthroscope tip contacts. Main improvements occurred after the first two practice sessions, indicating rapid familiarization and a training effect. Feedback from questionnaires completed by orthopaedic surgeons indicates that the system has face validity for its remit of basic arthroscopic training.