Psychomotor skills development for Veress needle placement using a virtual reality and haptics-based simulator

Chiara De Vece, Cristian Luciano, Elene De Momi

International Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery (Int J CARS), 2021



Veress needle (VN) insertion, if not correctly performed, could cause severe injuries to intra-abdominal organs and vessels. Therefore, cognitive and psychomotor skills training is needed. Virtual reality (VR) and haptic technologies have the potential to offer realistic simulations.


We developed a novel VR and haptic surgical simulator for VN insertion to teach trainees how to correctly puncture the abdominal wall, experiencing realistic tactile sensations throughout the simulation. The simulator allows for both procedural and realistic training. We released two different versions: the first using the OpenHapticsTMTM (OH) Toolkit and the second exploiting CHAI3D. We evaluated the learning effect using different performance indexes (time to perform the procedure, error in insertion angle, number of undesired contacts with organs) in an insertion task for both experienced urologists and students.


A general improvement of the chosen performance indexes was registered in the second repetition of the task for both groups. From the questionnaires, the simulator leveraging OH provides the trainee with a more precise haptic feedback, whereas the one exploiting CHAI3D allows them to perform the procedure more easily thanks to the better visualization of the virtual environment. The results proved that the participants appreciated both implementations, and the System Usability Scale (SUS) test resulted in a “good” usability.


The haptics-based and VR simulator has shown the potential to be an important resource for the basic urological training in obtaining the pneumoperitoneum and improving the acquisition of the necessary psychomotor skills, allowing for extended and more effective training without compromising patient safety.