VR for Skills Assessment: Contrast-enhanced ultrasound exams performed by doctors

Purpose and Design of the Study

Contrast-enhanced ultrasound is among other things used to light up tumors in ultrasound images and make it easier to localize and perform biopsies. It is an invasive examination that can cause discomfort to patients and is difficult to train in the real world, as it involves the use of expensive equipment, voluntary patients, and an injection of contrast media into the blood stream.

This study was not about VR-based training, but rather investigated whether VR could be used as a competence assessment tool. When is a doctor ready to start performing contrast-enhanced ultrasound on patients?

The researchers behind the project developed a VR-based simulation test for contrast-enhanced ultrasound examinations. They included 25 doctors with different levels of experience in this procedure and gathered validity evidence to see if the test could distinguish beginners from experts. They also defined a limit for passing the test.

Results and Findings

The researchers in the study managed to determine 23 elements in the VR test that could distinguish a beginner from an expert in contrast-enhanced ultrasound examinations. Beginners scored an average of 6 points, while experts scored an average of 13 points, which resulted in establishing a passing grade of 9 points based on statistical analysis.

This study managed to develop a skills assessment tool that can help assess when a professional is ready to perform a risky procedure in a real environment.

Carried out in Collaboration Between