Training laparoscopic skills: changes in gynecological surgery

Ewa Jokinen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


During recent decades, gynecological surgery has changed considerably, and this development affects surgical training. In Finland, the total number of gynecological procedures has decreased by 30% during the last ten years. An increasing number of basic procedures are now done under local anesthesia at outpatient clinics where training is much more demanding than in the operating room. Laparotomies are frequently replaced by laparoscopic procedures that require more complex skills than open surgery. Furthermore, operating room efficiency causes time constraints, while patients in general have more co-morbidities and the surgical procedures needed are more complex. Thus, for trainees all these factors make training more challenging, and the traditional apprenticeship model alone no longer ensures that trainees learn the needed skills. In this dissertation study our aim was to assess developments in gynecological surgery in Finland and other Nordic countries by evaluating trends in hysterectomies. In addition, we investigated outcomes of traditional surgical training, as compared to systematic cognitive and manual pre-training on laparoscopic skills. We assessed separately the effect of pretraining on the trainee’s first operative laparoscopy, and on the other hand, on laparoscopic hysterectomy, which is the most demanding laparoscopic procedure trainees perform. In Study I, we assessed the numbers of different hysterectomies from the Nordic Medico-Statistical Committee and Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare databases. We compared outcomes of different hysterectomy methods between trainees and specialists collected from the FINHYST 2006 survey. In Finland, hysterectomy rates started to decline in 2003 and reached the rate of other Nordic countries in 2008. The rate of hysterectomy in Finland declined until 2017, and the laparoscopic method has been the most common method since 2013. In the outcome comparison, it was noted that the overall operative time was longer in trainees’ operations. In the vaginal method, blood loss was higher in the trainees’ group whereas in other hysterectomy methods or in total complication rates there were no differences between the groups. In Study II, we evaluated the effectiveness of a cognitive web-course ‘Basics in Gynecological Laparoscopy’ for trainees at various levels of experience. All trainees in Finland were invited to participate in this web-based anonymous study where the level of knowledge was evaluated before and after taking the course. Participants were allocated into three groups according to their experience. After the course, improvement in knowledge gain was detected in all three groups; the less experienced group reached the starting level of the middle group and the middle group reached the starting level of the most experienced group. In Studies III and IV, the effect of simulator training on operative skills was evaluated. Trainees with no experience in operative laparoscopy were recruited for Study III. Half of the group comprised the intervention group. They did the web-based course ‘Basics in Gynecological Laparoscopy’ and trained basic skills with a virtual reality simulator. The control group took part in the traditional training only. The first live laparoscopic salpingectomy was video-recorded and evaluated. We found no differences in the surgical outcomes between the groups. In Study IV, the participants recruited were more experienced, but had not done laparoscopic hysterectomy as a first surgeon. All participants did the basic training as the intervention group in Study III. Furthermore, the intervention group trained with the hysterectomy module in a virtual reality simulator. The intervention group performed significantly better as evaluated by the Objective Assessment of Technical Skills and Visual Analog scale. Our findings indicate that the traditional apprentice model alone is no longer sufficient in trainee education due to changes in gynecological surgery. In Study III, we did not detect differences in outcomes between the groups. However, in Study IV evaluating learning of a more advanced procedure, we demonstrated better performance after training with the procedural module in a simulator. Based on these studies, we suggest that simulator training should be mandatory, with allocated training time for the trainee and supervision time for the trainer for providing feedback. As innate skills are different, a proficiency-based curriculum results in more homogeneous skills. Less experienced trainees seem to benefit the most from simulator training, thus the training should be started in the earliest stage of training.
Original languageEnglish
  • Härkki, Päivi, Supervisor
  • Mikkola, Tomi, Supervisor
Place of PublicationHelsinki
Print ISBNs978-951-51-5783-6
Electronic ISBNs978-951-51-5784-3
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Bibliographical note

M1 - 62 s. + liitteet

Fields of Science

  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures
  • +trends
  • Hysterectomy
  • +adverse effects
  • +education
  • +methods
  • +statistics & numerical data
  • Blood Loss, Surgical
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Educational Measurement
  • Feedback
  • Hysterectomy, Vaginal
  • Laparoscopy
  • Learning
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage
  • Salpingectomy
  • Scandinavian and Nordic Countries
  • Simulation Training
  • Virtual Reality
  • 3123 Gynaecology and paediatrics

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