Ultrasound scanning is an indispensable skill in obstetrics and gynaecology. Trainees find experience in scanning difficult to access, and struggle to reach Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology required competencies. This is due to pressure on scanning lists, decreased doctors' hours and increased patient expectations. This study assesses the construct validity of the virtual reality simulation (VRS) ultrasound trainer, Ultrasim and its use for training. Results will inform a future RCT to evaluate transferability of skills learnt to scanning on ‘real’ patients. Ultimately, we aim to implement a VRS ultrasound training programme.
Method 30 obstetricians were recruited and divided into novice (<10 ultrasound examinations performed), intermediate (20–50 ultrasound examinations performed) and expert (>100 ultrasound examinations performed) categories. Participants were orientated to Ultrasim with a basic skills task. They performed three repetitions of a VRS growth ultrasound scan measuring fetal biometry and liquor volume and assessing placental site and presentation. They performed five repetitions of a crown rump length (CRL) measurement. Time taken to complete each scan was recorded.
Results Absolute deviation from the defined standards for all parameters was calculated. Preliminary data showed a significant difference between novice versus intermediate (p=0.004) and expert (p=0.012) in CRL1 measurements, demonstrating construct validity. With repetition accuracy of novice measurements and time taken approached expert levels demonstrating a learning curve. Growth scan preliminary data revealed greatest variability within the novice measurements and the expert group was significantly faster (p=0.002).
Conclusion VRS ultrasound training has the potential to improve scanning skills of Obstetrics and Gynaecology trainees.
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