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Technical skills examination for general surgical trainees. BJS 2006; 93: 1139-1146.

Published: 13th July 2006

Authors: V. Datta, S. Bann, R. Aggarwal, M. Mandalia, J. Hance, A. Darzi et al.


The technical skills of surgical trainees are difficult to assess and compare objectively. This study involved a structured, multistation, technical skills examination that enables the stratification of surgical trainees.


Twenty‐two surgeons (five basic surgical trainees, eight junior specialist trainees, four senior specialist trainees and five consultants) participated in the study. All undertook a five‐station technical skills examination consisting of three synthetic simulations (bowel anastomosis, vascular anastomosis, saphenofemoral dissection) and two virtual reality‐based (flexible sigmoidoscopy and laparoscopy) assessment stations. Video‐based analyses and in‐built computer scoring were used to measure each surgeon's performance. The mean rank was determined for each variable, and the sum of the mean ranks produced a total score.


There was a significant improvement in overall performance with increasing seniority (P < 0·001). Significant differences were observed between basic surgical trainees and junior specialist trainees (P = 0·019), and between junior and senior specialist trainees (P = 0·048), but not between senior trainees and consultants.


This examination successfully differentiated surgical skill, both between surgeons with different grades of experience and within the target study group of specialist trainees. The examination is feasible in terms of the timeframe needed to complete tasks, cost, and efficiency in performing video‐based assessments. Copyright © 2006 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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