Hands-on surgical simulation has been explored (CHS) to address training restrictions in congenital heart surgery. However, objective assessment methods to monitor surgeon performance are required to justify its widespread implementation. For a study,  researchers verified a procedure-specific assessment tool for simulating the artery switch operation using 3D-printed models and analyzing scoring consistency among evaluators with varying degrees of CHS experience. During two hands-on surgical training sessions, five “expert” and five “junior” surgeons performed the arterial switch technique on 3D-printed models with transposition of the great arteries. Their performance was evaluated retrospectively by nine evaluators with varying levels of CHS expertise (staff surgeons, resident surgeons, and non-MD raters). Researchers used the Hands-On Surgical Training–Congenital Heart Surgery (HOST-CHS) assessment tool and the global rating scale to conduct the evaluations (GRS).

The HOST-CHS instrument demonstrated higher interrater and intrarater reliability compared to the GRS. Expert surgeons’ total scores were remarkably consistent across all evaluators. The total scores for junior surgeons given by non-MD raters were marginally higher than those given by residents and staff evaluators. Evaluators of all levels were able to distinguish between junior and expert surgeons. The creation and validation of an objective, procedure-specific assessment tool for the arterial switch operation with consistency among evaluators with varying levels of experience are demonstrated in this study. There is now a platform for correctly quantifying and evaluating performance, which will be extremely useful in educating and developing the next generation of congenital cardiac surgeons.