• educational models;
  • partial nephrectomy;
  • robotic-assisted;
  • training;
  • validation studies

Study Type – Therapy (case series)

Level of Evidence 4

What's known on the subject? and What does the study add?

One area of particular growth for robotic surgery has been partial nephrectomy. Despite a perceived notion that robotic-assisted partial nephrectomy is more easily adaptable compared to laparoscopic partial nephrectomy, there is nonetheless an associated learning curve.

Validated training models with a corresponding assessment method for robotic-assisted partial nephrectomy were previously unavailable. We have designed and validated a RAPN surgical model appropriate for resident and fellow training.


  • • 
    To evaluate the face, content and construct validities of a novel ex vivo surgical training model for robotic-assisted partial nephrectomy (RAPN).


  • • 
    We prospectively identified participants as novice (not completed any robotic console cases), intermediate (at least one robotic console case but <100 cases), and expert (≥100 robotic console cases). Each participant performed a partial nephrectomy using the da Vinci Si Surgical System on an ex vivo porcine kidney with an embedded Styrofoam ball that mimics a renal tumour. Subjects completed a post-study questionnaire assessing training model realism and utility. Participants were anonymously judged by three expert reviewers using a validated laparoscopic assessment tool. Performance between groups was compared using the tukey–kramer test.


  • • 
    The 46 participants recruited for this study included 24 novices, nine intermediates, and 13 experts. Overall, expert surgeons rated the training model as ‘very realistic’ (median visual analogue score 7/10) (face validity). Experts also rated the model as an ‘extremely useful’ training tool for residents (median 9/10) and fellows (9/10) (content validity), although less so for experienced robotic surgeons (5/10). Experts outscored novices on overall performance (P= 0.0002) as well as individual metrics, including ‘depth perception,’‘bimanual dexterity,’‘efficiency,’‘tissue handling,’‘autonomy,’‘precision,’ and ‘instrument and camera awareness’ (P < 0.05) (construct validity). Experts similarly outperformed intermediates in most metrics (P < 0.05).


  • • 
    Our novel ex vivo RAPN surgical model has demonstrated face, content and construct validity. Future development of this model should include simulation of haemostasis management and renal reconstruction.