Virtual coach: the next tool in functional endoscopic sinus surgery education

John P. Richards, Aaron J. Done, Samuel R. Barber, Saurabh Jain, Young Jun Son, Eugene H. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Backgound: Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) can be challenging as novices become accustomed to handling endoscopes and instruments while navigating complex sinonasal anatomy. Experts demonstrate fluid and efficient motions when addressing pathology. The training process from novice to expert relies on hands-on experience in cadaveric laboratories and preceptorship models that require significant time and expense. This study aims to validate the use of a virtual coach to guide users step-by-step through a basic FESS. Methods: Seventeen surgeons were grouped into novice (n = 10) and expert (n = 7) based on self-reported levels of surgical experience. Users were trained using the maxillary antrostomy module in the Neurorhinological Surgery (NRS) simulator combining the physical craniofacial model with virtual reality (VR)-tracked surgical instruments in the VR operating room. The virtual coach guided the user using surgical videos, auditory, and visual cues. The coach recorded data for each subject including the number of times borders of the nasal cavity were encountered and time to completion. Users graded the usefulness of the virtual coach on a Likert questionnaire. Results: Face validity of our NRS simulator was replicated by user questionnaires, and construct validity replicated by differentiation between novice and expert level surgeons (p < 0.01). Novices contacted a significantly higher number of anatomic borders (n = 17) and had a longer operative time (t = 370 seconds). All users reported high scores on the benefit and usefulness of the virtual coach. Conclusion: The virtual coach provides a useful tool to enhance FESS education by providing objective real-time data in a novel mixed-reality surgical environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-102
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Forum of Allergy and Rhinology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • FESS
  • endoscopic sinus surgery
  • endoscopy
  • resident training in rhinology
  • simulation training
  • sinus anatomy
  • sinus surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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