Developing and Validating an iPad Based Laparoscopic Trainer

Objective of the technology:
Access to facilities that allow one to develop their laparoscopic skills is very limited in the hospital environment and courses can be very expensive. We set out to build a cheap yet effective trainer to allow laparoscopic skill acquisition in the home or classroom environment based on using a tablet as a replacement for the laparoscopic stack and camera.

The cavity to train in was made from a cardboard box and we left the sides and back open to allow for natural light to fill the cavity. An iPad 2 (Apple inc.) was placed over the box to act as our camera and monitor. We provided ten experienced laparoscopic surgeons with a task of passing a suture needle through 3 hoops and they filled in a questionnaire to assess Face (training capacity) and Content (performance) validity.

On a 5 point Likert scale the tablet based laparoscopic trainer scored a mean 4.2 for training capacity (hand eye co-ordination, development and maintenance of lap skills) the trainer and for performance (graphics, video and lighting quality) it scored a mean 4.1.

Conclusions / future directions:
The tablet stood the tests of quality, training capacity and usage and we managed to establish face and content validation. It allows students and trainees to practice at their own pace and on the go. For the price of a laparoscopic stack and camera we can buy around 150 iPad 2s for inexpensive training. Future “app” based skills are planned.

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