A Multi-institution Study on the Association of Virtual Reality Skills with Continence Recovery after Robot-assisted Radical Prostatectomy

Timothy N. Chu, Elyssa Y. Wong, Runzhuo Ma, Cherine H. Yang, Istabraq S. Dalieh, Alvin Hui, Oscar Gomez, Steven Cen, Ahmed Ghazi, Brian J. Miles, Clayton Lau, John W. Davis, Mitchell G. Goldenberg, Andrew J. Hung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Virtual reality (VR) simulators are increasingly being used for surgical skills training. It is unclear what skills are best improved via VR, translate to live surgical skills, and influence patient outcomes.

OBJECTIVE: To assess surgeons in VR and live surgery using a suturing assessment tool and evaluate the association between technical skills and a clinical outcome.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This prospective five-center study enrolled participants who completed VR suturing exercises and provided live surgical video. Graders provided skill assessments using the validated End-To-End Assessment of Suturing Expertise (EASE) suturing evaluation tool.

OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS AND STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: A hierarchical Poisson model was used to compare skill scores among cohorts and evaluate the association of scores with clinical outcomes. Spearman's method was used to assess correlation between VR and live skills.

RESULTS AND LIMITATIONS: Ten novices, ten surgeons with intermediate expertise (median 64 cases, interquartile range [IQR] 6-80), and 26 expert surgeons (median 850 cases, IQR 375-3000) participated in this study. Intermediate and expert surgeons were significantly more likely to have ideal scores in comparison to novices for the subskills needle hold angle, wrist rotation, and wrist rotation needle withdrawal (p < 0.01). For both intermediate and expert surgeons, there was positive correlation between VR and live skills for needle hold angle (p < 0.05). For expert surgeons, there was a positive association between ideal scores for VR needle hold angle and driving smoothness subskills and 3-mo continence recovery (p < 0.05). Limitations include the size of the intermediate surgeon sample and clinical data limited to expert surgeons.

CONCLUSIONS: EASE can be used in VR to identify skills to improve for trainee surgeons. Technical skills that influence postoperative outcomes may be assessable in VR.

PATIENT SUMMARY: This study provides insights into surgical skills that translate from virtual simulation to live surgery and that have an impact on urinary continence after robot-assisted removal of the prostate. We also highlight the usefulness of virtual reality in surgical education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1044-1051
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Urology Focus
Issue number6
Early online dateJun 3 2023
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • Robotics
  • Skills assessment
  • Surgical training
  • Virtual reality
  • Prospective Studies
  • Humans
  • Prostatectomy/methods
  • Male
  • Prostate
  • Virtual Reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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