Factors influencing microsurgical skill acquisition during a dedicated training course




Proficient microsurgical skills are considered essential in plastic and reconstructive surgery. Specialized courses offer trainees opportunity to improve their technical skills. Trainee aptitude may play an important role in the ability of a trainee to acquire proficient skills as individuals have differing fundamental abilities. We delivered an intensive 5-day microsurgical training course. We objectively assessed the impact of the course on microsurgical skill acquisition and whether aptitudes as assessed with psychometric tests were related to surgical performance.


Sixteen surgical trainees (male = 10 and female = 6) participated in the courses. Trainees' visual spatial, perceptual, and psychomotor aptitudes were assessed on day 1 of the course. The trainees' performance of an end-to-end arterial anastomosis was assessed on days 2 and 5. Surgical performance was assessed with objective structured assessment of technical skills(OSATS) and time to complete the task.


The trainees showed a significant improvement in OSATS scores from days 2 to 5 (P < 0.001) and the time taken to complete the anastomosis (P < 0.001). Aptitude scores correlated strongly with objectively assessed microsurgical skill performance for male trainees but not for females.


We demonstrated that participating in a microsurgical training course results in significant improvement in objectively assessed microvascular surgical skills. The degree of skills improvement was strongly correlated with psychomotor aptitude assessments scores for male trainees. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.