Surgical Games: A Simulation-Based Structured Assessment of Orthopedic Surgery Resident Technical Skill

Background: Simulation-based education and objective evaluation of surgical skill have been incorporated into many surgical training programs. We describe the development and implementation of a timed, multitask, station-based Surgical Games to evaluate orthopedic resident surgical skills.

Methods: Participants in the study were postgraduate-year 2 to 5 orthopedic surgery residents from a single institution. Residents completed 4-timed simulated tasks: cadaveric carpal tunnel release (CTR), Sawbones model of total knee arthroplasty (TKA), Sawbones model of ankle fracture open reduction internal fixation (ORIF), and knee arthroscopy simulator (KAS) of removal of loose body. Evaluations were performed using standardized score sheets by attending surgeons. Resident performance was analyzed by postgraduate-year and number of weeks of prior task-related residency training.

Results: A total of 32 residents were assessed at the 4 stations. Total scores were significantly different for CTR (p = 0.006), TKA (p = 0.05), and the KAS (p = 0.004) by year of training, but not for the ankle ORIF task. Residents with more task-specific experience performed significantly better on the KAS (p < 0.001), TKA (p = 0.002), and CTR (p = 0.02) tasks but not on the ankle ORIF task (p = 0.1). Overall, residents rated the exercise valuable to their education with mean scores of 3.9 ± 0.54 on a 5-point Likert Scale.

Conclusions: This Surgical Games exercise provided an objective evaluation of surgical skill that correlated with year-in-training and prior experience in skill-specific rotations for the KAS, TKA, and CTR tasks. This surgical skills assessment provided an opportunity for effective structured feedback and identification of areas for improvement.

Keywords: observed structured assessment; orthopedics; resident surgical skills assessment; surgical simulation.