Temporal bone surgery is a difficult and complex skill to learn. In response to the limited availability of cadaveric temporal bones for training and the reduction in surgeons working hours, virtual reality temporal bone simulation has been developed. This review evaluates whether training utilising virtual reality temporal bone simulators improves clinical operative skills.
A comprehensive literature review was conducted via NHS evidence and pertinent articles were reviewed. Seven experimental trials were identified, as well as two relevant comparative questionnaires.
The results indicate that virtual reality simulator training is beneficial. Positive outcomes were identified when cadaveric temporal bone dissection was undertaken after virtual reality training compared to either cadaveric practice or no tuition. There was limited evidence indicating the transferability of these results to real-life operating. In addition no data was available about the long-term benefits of virtual reality training and no information about the cost effectiveness of virtual reality simulators.
The limited data available supports the utilisation of virtual reality temporal bone simulators, especially in the novice phases of training and for the more complex parts of temporal bone dissection. In view of the heterogeneity of evidence available, further research is required into this developing area.