Invention of an Online Interactive Virtual Neurosurgery Simulator With Audiovisual Capture for Tactile Feedback

Operative Neurosurgery 24:194–200, 2023

BACKGROUND: Present neurosurgical simulators are not portable.

OBJECTIVE: To maximize portability of a virtual surgical simulator by providing online learning and to validate a unique psychometric method (“audiovisual capture”) to provide tactile information without force feedback probes.

METHODS: An online interactive neurosurgical simulator of a posterior petrosectomy was developed. The difference in the hardness of compact vs cancellous bone was presented with audiovisual effects as inclinations of the drilling speed and sound based on engineering perspectives. Three training methods (the developed simulator, lectures and review of slides, and dissection of a 3-dimensional printed temporal bone model [D3DPM]) were evaluated by 10 neurosurgical residents. They all first attended a lecture and were randomly allocated to 2 groups by the training D3DPM (A: simulator; B: review of slides, no simulator). In D3DPM, objective measures (required time, quality of completion, injury scores of important structures, and the number of instructions provided) were compared between groups. Finally, the residents answered questionnaires.

RESULTS: The objective measures were not significantly different between groups despite a younger tendency in group A (graduate year À2.4 years, 95% confidence interval À5.3 to 0.5, P = .081). The mean perceived hardness of cancellous bone on the simulator was 70% of that of compact bone, matching the intended profile. The simulator was superior to lectures and review of slides in feedback and repeated practices and to D3DPM in adaptability to multiple learning environments.

CONCLUSION: A novel online interactive neurosurgical simulator was developed, and satisfactory validity was shown. Audiovisual capture successfully transmitted the tactile information.