Design and validation of a virtual reality trainer for ultrasound-guided regional anaesthesia

A. Chuan (Lead / Corresponding author), J. Qian, A. Bogdanovych, A. Kumar, M. McKendrick, G. McLeod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
49 Downloads (Pure)


Virtual reality is a form of high-fidelity simulation that may be used to enhance the quality of medical education. We created a bespoke virtual reality trainer software using high resolution motion capture and ultrasound imagery to teach cognitive-motor needling skills necessary for the performance of ultrasound-guided regional anaesthesia. The primary objective of this study was to determine the construct validity between novice and experienced regional anaesthetists. Secondary objectives were: to create learning curves for needling performance; compare the virtual environment immersion with other high-fidelity virtual reality software; and compare cognitive task loads imposed by the virtual trainer compared with real-life medical procedures. We recruited 21 novice and 15 experienced participants, each of whom performed 40 needling attempts on four different virtual nerve targets. Performance scores for each attempt were calculated based on measured metrics (needle angulation, withdrawals, time taken) and compared between the groups. The degree of virtual reality immersion was measured using the Presence Questionnaire, and cognitive burden was measured using the NASA-Task Load Index. Scores by experienced participants were significantly higher than novices (p = 0.002) and for each nerve target (84% vs. 77%, p = 0.002; 86% vs. 79%, p = 0.003; 87% vs. 81%, p = 0.002; 87% vs. 80%, p = 0.003). Log-log transformed learning curves demonstrated individual variability in performance over time. The virtual reality trainer was rated as being comparably immersive to other high-fidelity virtual reality software in the realism, possibility to act and quality of interface subscales (all p > 0.06) but not in the possibility to examine and self-performance subscales (all p < 0.009). The virtual reality trainer created workloads similar to those reported in real-life procedural medicine (p = 0.53). This study achieved initial validation of our new virtual reality trainer and allows progression to a planned definitive trial that will compare the effectiveness of virtual reality training on real-life regional anaesthesia performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-746
Number of pages8
Issue number6
Early online date3 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • medical education
  • regional anaesthesia
  • ultrasound
  • virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Design and validation of a virtual reality trainer for ultrasound-guided regional anaesthesia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this