Background: Laparoscopic suturing skills are important for advanced laparoscopic surgery. However, objective assessment of these skills has not yet been established. The aim of this study was to assess the laparoscopic suturing skills of novice and experienced surgeons using an electromagnetic motion-tracking system. Methods: A total of 18 surgeons, who were all right-handed, were divided into the following two groups according to their experience as an operator in laparoscopic surgery: 9 novice surgeons (fewer than 10 laparoscopic procedures) and 9 experienced surgeons (more than 50 laparoscopic procedures). The subjects performed an intracorporeal suturing task in an inanimate box laparoscopic trainer while the movements of their forceps were evaluated using an electromagnetic motion-tracking system. Their laparoscopic skills were assessed on the basis of the time, path length, and average speed of the forceps in each hand. Results: Experienced surgeons completed the suturing task significantly faster than novice surgeons did. The left path length was significantly shorter for experienced surgeons than for novice surgeons, whereas the right path lengths did not differ. The right average speed of knot tying was significantly faster for experienced surgeons than for novice surgeons, whereas the left average speeds did not differ. Conclusions: Evaluation of psychomotor skills in laparoscopic suturing using an electromagnetic motion-tracking system revealed better results for experienced surgeons than for novice surgeons in terms of the time taken, left path length, and right speed of knot-tying. Furthermore, surgical proficiency due to experience can affect surgical dexterity of each hand differently. The present study also demonstrates the efficacy of this system for objective evaluation of laparoscopic suturing skills.
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