Evaluation of clinical endobronchial ultrasound skills following clinical versus simulation training


  • This work was performed out of the Division of Respiratory Medicine, University of Calgary; Tamarratt Research Bronchoscopy Suite, Calgary, AB, Canada.

  • Conflict of interest statement: Dr A. Tremblay has received consulting fees from Olympus America. The University of Calgary has received grants from Olympus Canada for support of an Interventional Pulmonary Medicine Training Program and for CME events relating to EBUS.

David R. Stather, Division of Respiratory Medicine, Health Sciences Center, 3330 Hospital Dr NW, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 4N1. Email: davestather@yahoo.ca


Background and objective:  Endobronchial ultrasound with transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA) is a pulmonary procedure that can be challenging to learn. This study aims to compare trainee EBUS-TBNA performance during clinical procedures, following training with a computer EBUS-TBNA simulator versus conventional clinical EBUS-TBNA training.

Methods:  A prospective study of pulmonary trainees performing EBUS-TBNA procedures on patients with suspected lung cancer and mediastinal adenopathy. Two cohorts of trainees were each evaluated while performing EBUS-TBNA on two patients. Group 1 received training by performing 15 cases on an EBUS-TBNA simulator (n = 4) and had never performed a clinical EBUS-TBNA procedure. Group 2 received training by doing 15–25 EBUS-TBNA procedures on patients (n = 4).

Results:  There was no significant difference in the primary outcome measure of total EBUS-TBNA procedure time/number of successful aspirates between Groups 1 and 2 (3.95 (±0.93) vs 3.64 (±0.89), P = 0.51). Total learner EBUS-TBNA procedure time in minutes (23.67 (±5.58) vs 21.81 (±5.36), P = 0.17) and percentage of successful aspirates (93.3% (±5.8%) vs 86.3% (±6.7%), P = 0.12) were not significantly different between Group 1 and Group 2. The only significant difference found between Group 1 and Group 2 was time to intubation in minutes (0.99 (±0.46) vs 0.50 (±0.42), P = 0.04).

Conclusions:  EBUS-TBNA simulator use leads to rapid acquisition of clinical EBUS-TBNA skills comparable with that obtained with conventional training methods using practice on patients, suggesting that skills learned using an EBUS-TBNA simulator are transferable to clinical EBUS-TBNA performance. EBUS-TBNA simulators show promise for training, potentially minimizing the burden of procedural learning on patients.