Published online Jan 16, 2014. doi: 10.4253/wjge.v6.i1.6
Revised: November 24, 2013
Accepted: December 17, 2013
Published online: January 16, 2014
The use of simulators as educational tools for medical procedures is spreading rapidly and many efforts have been made for their implementation in gastrointestinal endoscopy training. Endoscopy simulation training has been suggested for ascertaining patient safety while positively influencing the trainees’ learning curve. Virtual simulators are the most promising tool among all available types of simulators. These integrated modalities offer a human-like endoscopy experience by combining virtual images of the gastrointestinal tract and haptic realism with using a customized endoscope. From their first steps in the 1980s until today, research involving virtual endoscopic simulators can be divided in two categories: investigation of the impact of virtual simulator training in acquiring endoscopy skills and measuring competence. Emphasis should also be given to the financial impact of their implementation in endoscopy, including the cost of these state-of-the-art simulators and the potential economic benefits from their usage. Advances in technology will contribute to the upgrade of existing models and the development of new ones; while further research should be carried out to discover new fields of application.
Core tip: Virtual endoscopic simulators have a great potential in endoscopy training. There are currently two virtual simulators available to purchase as well as others available for non-commercial use. The use of virtual simulators in endoscopy boosts training procedure for upper and lower gastrointestinal endoscopy; the benefits being more prominent in novice trainees. More data are needed to document their position in endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography and endoscopic ultrasound training. Available simulators should not be considered a tool for assessing the skills of endoscopists. The main disadvantage of virtual simulators is their high cost.