Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Cataract Surgery Trainer teaches residents cataract surgery

Boston 02 February 2010The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Cataract Surgery Trainer, a virtual training tool which helps to train physicians to perform cataract surgery, has been shown to enhance teaching in cataract surgery when compared to traditional teaching methods. The results of a multi-centre study evaluating the programme's effectiveness as a supplement to traditional teaching tools was published in the February issue of Ophthalmology.

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Cataract surgery is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States on people over 65 years old, yet it is one of the most difficult surgeries to learn. John Loewenstein, M.D., Massachusetts Eye and Ear Associate Chief of Ophthalmology for Clinical Affairs and Vice Chair of Education for Ophthalmology, and Bonnie An Henderson, M.D., former director of Massachusetts Eye and Ear's Comprehensive Ophthalmology Service, developed the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Cataract Surgery Trainer as an interactive computer programme to assist ophthalmology residents in learning skills required to perform cataract surgery.

The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Cataract Surgery Trainer allows ophthalmology residents to experience the decisions required and tasks involved in performing cataract surgery in a virtual environment. Specifically, the programme allows the learner or resident to click on actions involved in cataract surgery, view the animated actions on the computer screen and receive feedback as needed. Residents receive the benefit of having access to tips related to the specific surgical task they are performing, or utilizing the option of browsing to learn more about related topics. The programme offers a library with resources to the learner, including commentary from experts, surgeons and professors in ophthalmology and video demonstrations. The programme also includes video clips of actual surgery.

Important benefits of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Cataract Surgery Trainer include allowing learners to practise the cognitive skills involved in cataract surgery and view the consequences of their surgical decision making in a safe, computer simulated environment. In addition, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Cataract Surgery Trainer allows residents to practise surgery at any time, without the need of a teacher or instructor being present. Ultimately, these benefits will be passed on to the patient.

To test the effectiveness of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Cataract Surgery Trainer programme, a prospective, multi-centre, single-masked, controlled trial was conducted using medical residents in the ophthalmology departments of seven academic institutions. Residents were randomized into two groups. One group received a video disc of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Cataract Surgery Trainer programme in addition to traditional teaching in their residency programme, while the other group received written teaching materials in addition to traditional teaching. Both groups took on-line anonymous pre-tests and post-tests, as well as answering satisfaction questionnaires.

Results showed that there were no differences in pre-test scores between the two groups. However, the group provided with the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Cataract Surgery Trainer programme scored significantly higher on their post-tests. In addition, the mean difference between pre-test and post-test scores for the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Cataract Surgery Trainer group was significantly better than in the group that did not use the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Cataract Surgery Trainer. Residents responding to questionnaires reported using the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Cataract Surgery Trainer as being "more fun", as well as reporting that they were more likely to use a programme such as the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Cataract Surgery Trainer again compared with the likelihood of using traditional tools.

"We're pleased that the findings of this study suggest that the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Cataract Surgery Trainer could be an effective supplement to traditional teaching. We hope that this computer simulation tool, when used as a supplement to teach residents the skills involved in cataract surgery, would better prepare residents for their experience in the operating room", stated Dr. Loewenstein.

Founded in 1824, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary is an independent specialty hospital providing patient care for disorders of the eye, ear, nose, throat, head and neck. Massachusetts Eye and Ear is an international leader in Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology research and a teaching partner of Harvard Medical School. You can take a look at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Cataract Surgery Trainer for yourself and view a demonstration.


Source: Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary

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