Mastery Learning Inguinal Hernia Repair

18:00 EDT 31st March 2015 | BioPortfolio


Abstract: Minimally invasive techniques are now ubiquitous in the management of surgical disease. Competence in laparoscopy requires specialized training and practice. With the decrease of resident work hours, training programs need to explore and adopt efficient strategies to teach and evaluate laparoscopic skills. For economic, ethical, and legal considerations, the operating room may no longer be the ideal environment for teaching these basic technical skills. There appears to be a role for simulation in response to this need. The transfer of laparoscopic skills learned in a simulated environment to the operating room has showed mixed results. Overall, it seems that surgical skills training outside the operating room is beneficial, but the best method(s) of designing, implementing and evaluating such skills curriculums have yet to be identified.

The laparoscopic totally extraperitoneal (TEP) inguinal hernia repair is an example of a procedure that is associated with a steep learning curve and requires mastery of basic laparoscopic skills. In addition, an increased recurrence and complication rates in the early learning curve of this procedure, underscores the importance of adequate training. The current practice of teaching the TEP repair in the operating room under an apprenticeship-based model is associated with increased operative time and costs. We propose that the training of surgical trainees outside the operating room with a structured, mastery oriented simulation-based curriculum will help reduce the learning curve of the TEP repair, improve operative performance, and decrease operative time and costs.


Specific Aims:

Inguinal hernias are a common ailment of the general population. Their surgical management through a laparoscopic totally extraperitoneal (TEP) approach has been shown to lead to less discomfort and faster recovery than do classic open repairs with equal effectiveness. Nonetheless, the TEP repair has not been adopted widely because of concerns regarding a substantial learning curve. In addition, the current practice of teaching the TEP procedure in the operating room under an apprenticeship-based model is associated with increased operative time and cost. The training of surgeons in laparoscopic skills outside the operating room with simulation-based strategies has emerged as an attractive alternative. Many studies have demonstrated that trainees who practice laparoscopic skills in a simulated environment show improvement of those skills when tested in that same environment. Few studies however, have been able to demonstrate a direct correlation between such simulation training and improved performance in the operating room. It appears from these studies that surgical skills training outside the operating room is beneficial, but the best methods have yet to be identified.

Our long-term research goal is to explore and adopt efficient simulation-based strategies to teach and evaluate surgical skills to surgical trainees. Our objective for this study is to design and evaluate a simulation-based curriculum based upon the concepts of mastery learning theory (achievement of pre-specified expert-derived benchmarks without time constraints) and to develop an objective mean of assessing operative performance that will both aid in shortening the learning curve of the TEP inguinal hernia repair for surgical trainees. Our central hypothesis is that the training of surgery residents outside the operative room with simulation-based strategies, such as the TEP mastery learning curriculum will improve operative performance and reduce operative time during the TEP repair. The rationale for this study is that the identification of effective strategies to shorten the learning curve of the TEP repair that translate into decreased operative time will not only increase the adoption of the TEP repair with its inherent benefits to more candidate patients, but will also lead to substantial cost-savings and perhaps improved patient outcomes. We are especially well prepared to complete this study as we are a part of an academic referral center that treats a myriad of inguinal hernias patients and educates hundreds of surgical residents on a continuous basis.

SPECIFIC AIM 1: To compare the TEP mastery learning curriculum with the apprenticeship-based model of learning the TEP repair in the operative room on operative time and operative performance of TEP inguinal hernia repairs performed by surgical trainees.

Hypothesis 1a: Surgical trainees who undergo the TEP mastery learning curriculum will achieve lesser mean operative times while performing a TEP inguinal hernia repair when compared to those who followed the apprenticeship-based model.

Hypothesis 1b: Surgical trainees who undergo the TEP mastery learning curriculum will achieve greater mean operative performance scores while performing a TEP inguinal hernia repair when compared to those who followed the apprenticeship-based model.

Secondary Aim:

Compare the rate of TEP inguinal hernia repair post-operative complications, specifically urinary retention for patients operated on by surgical residents who underwent the mastery learning curriculum versus those who underwent the apprenticeship-based model.

This research is innovative because it will challenge the current paradigm of teaching basic laparoscopic skills in the operative room and will strive to link surgical education methods to objective patient level outcomes such as operative time and cost. At the completion of this project, it is our expectation that we will be better prepared to continue our efforts of translating new educational modalities/technologies to improve the delivery of healthcare. Our anticipated findings will have a relevant impact in how we educate the surgeons of tomorrow.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Single Blind (Outcomes Assessor)


Inguinal Hernia


Mastery Learning TEP Curriculum, Current Practice


Mayo Clinic
United States




Mayo Clinic

Results (where available)

View Results


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An abdominal hernia with an external bulge in the GROIN region. It can be classified by the location of herniation. Indirect inguinal hernias occur through the internal inguinal ring. Direct inguinal hernias occur through defects in the ABDOMINAL WALL (transversalis fascia) in Hesselbach's triangle. The former type is commonly seen in children and young adults; the latter in adults.

A protrusion of abdominal structures through the retaining ABDOMINAL WALL. It involves two parts: an opening in the abdominal wall, and a hernia sac consisting of PERITONEUM and abdominal contents. Abdominal hernias include groin hernia (HERNIA, FEMORAL; HERNIA, INGUINAL) and VENTRAL HERNIA.

A groin hernia occurring inferior to the inguinal ligament and medial to the FEMORAL VEIN and FEMORAL ARTERY. The femoral hernia sac has a small neck but may enlarge considerably when it enters the subcutaneous tissue of the thigh. It is caused by defects in the ABDOMINAL WALL.

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A pelvic hernia through the obturator foramen, a large aperture in the hip bone normally covered by a membrane. Obturator hernia can lead to intestinal incarceration and INTESTINAL OBSTRUCTION.

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