BACKGROUND: Building on skills already learned in acquiring more complex or related skills is termed transfer of training (TOT). This study examined the TOT effects of previous open and laparoscopic surgical experience on a laparoscopic training module. STUDY DESIGN: Intracorporeal knot tying was chosen for evaluating TOT among three groups of surgical residents: interns (n = 11) with limited open and laparoscopic surgical experience, junior residents (n = 9) with recent and ongoing open and laparoscopic surgical experience, and senior residents (n = 8) with remote and limited laparoscopic experience but ongoing open surgical experience. After receiving a lecture, demonstration, and written instructions on three knot-tying techniques, residents rotated through three performance stations, one for each technique, over 2 days. After 15 minutes of practice, the residents were videotaped completing a test knot. Time to completion and economy of motion were recorded and analyzed. RESULTS: Junior residents had fewer performance errors than senior residents (reported as mean ± standard error of the mean) and were significantly faster than interns. No significant differences between interns and senior residents for mean time or error performance were observed. Senior residents did not demonstrate TOT from open surgical experience to laparoscopic knot tying. No significant differences were obtained across the three sessions for errors or for time. CONCLUSION: No evidence was found for TOT from open surgical experience to newly introduced laparoscopic knot-tying techniques or from one skill training session to a different skill session at least 4 hours later. This study indicates that specific minimally invasive surgery training is needed to develop laparoscopic surgery skills.
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