The laparoscopic skills lab is inanimate. Unlike labs that involve practicing actual operations on animals, this experience is designed to help with the acquisition and maintainance of the manual skills and dexterity that are essential to performing advanced laparoscopic procedures. Before you begin to perform advanced laparoscopic operations on patients, you will now be required to document your proficiency in a series of drills done in the laparoscopic skills lab. Together with a partner, you will practice the drills and then document the time it takes to complete each drill. Obviously, you may be dishonest when documenting your times, but it is much more satisfying to actually acquire the skills and dexterity that will make advanced laparoscopic procedures easy and fun. Besides, if you haven't practiced the skills it will be painfully obvious in the operating room.
The drills that you will be doing in the skills lab are part of a laparoscopic skills enhancement and suturing course that was developed by Butch Rosser at Yale. Although the non-suturing drills may seem to be unrelated to advanced laparoscopic surgery, they are invaluable in the development of two-handed coordination, which is essential to laparoscopic efficiency and effectiveness. Residents at all levels and attendings will benefit from all of the drills.
There are four drills that you will do in the lab. Three of the drills are designed to increase the dexterity of your non-dominant hand, which is essential in any laparoscopic maneuver, particularly intracorporeal suturing. The fourth drill is laparoscopic suturing and intracorporeal knot tying. You should read about the drills at home or outside of the lab, come to the lab to practice and then record your times. It will be important to continue to return to the lab frequently to keep up your skills. Spending just a few minutes before a laparoscopic operation loading needles, placing stitches and tying knots will make you much more comfortable in the operating room.
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