Purpose: To evaluate the effectiveness of the portable laparoscopic trainer in improving skills in subjects who have had no previous laparoscopic experience. Materials and Methods: Twenty-nine medical students were given a pretest of three tasks on a standardized laparoscopic trainer. Subjects were evaluated objectively and subjectively. Fifteen subjects were randomized to receive a portable laparoscopic trainer and 14 subjects were assigned to the standardized laparoscopic trainers at our facility. The portable trainer group subjects were advised but not required to complete at least 3 hours of training. The group at the facility had a proctored 1-hour session each week for 3 weeks. Each subject was then retested and evaluated with the same pretest tasks. Objective and subjective improvements between the groups were compared. Results: Baseline demographics and pretest scores were similar between both groups. All students in the facility group completed the three 1-hour proctored sessions. The portable trainer group reported an average 204 minutes of practice. The facility group did objectively better on the post-test in overall time, and in two exercises. Subjectively, the facility group had a significant improvement compared with the portable trainer group (4.6 vs 2.4 point average increase, P=0.03). Conclusions: Both groups showed objective and subjective improvement after a 3-week period of training. The portable trainer group did report longer average practice time, but this made no significant difference in subjective or objective improvement. The portable laparoscopic trainer is comparable to the standard trainer for improvement of basic laparoscopic skills.
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