Development of a novel ex vivo porcine laparoscopic Heller myotomy and Nissen fundoplication training model (Toronto lap-Nissen simulator)
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BACKGROUND: Surgical trainees are required to develop competency in a variety of laparoscopic operations. Developing laparoscopic technical skills can be difficult as there has been a decrease in the number of procedures performed. This study aims to develop an inexpensive and anatomically relevant model for training in laparoscopic foregut procedures. METHODS: An ex vivo, anatomic model of the human upper abdomen was developed using intact porcine esophagus, stomach, diaphragm and spleen. The Toronto lap-Nissen simulator was contained in a laparoscopic box-trainer and included an arch system to simulate the normal radial shape and tension of the diaphragm. We integrated the use of this training model as a part of our laparoscopic skills laboratory-training curriculum. Afterwards, we surveyed trainees to evaluate the observed benefit of the learning session. RESULTS: Twenty-five trainees and five faculty members completed a survey regarding the use of this model. Among the trainees, only 4 (16%) had experience with laparoscopic Heller myotomy and Nissen fundoplication. They reported that practicing with the model was a valuable use of their limited time, repeating the exercise would be of additional benefit, and that the exercise improved their ability to perform or assist in an actual case in the operating room. Significant improvements were found in the following subjective measures comparing pre- vs. post-training: (I) knowledge level (5.6 vs. 8.0, P<0.001); (II) comfort level in assisting (6.3 vs. 7.6, P<0.001); and (III) comfort level in performing as the primary surgeon (4.9 vs. 7.1, P<0.001). The trainees and faculty members agreed that this model was of adequate fidelity and was a representative simulation of actual human anatomy. CONCLUSIONS: We developed an easily reproducible training model for laparoscopic procedures. This simulator reproduces human anatomy and increases the trainees' comfort level in performing and assisting with myotomy and fundoplication.