BACKGROUND: Systematic use of neurosurgical training simulators across institutions is significantly hindered by logistical and financial constraints. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate feasibility of large-scale implementation of an intraoperative catastrophe simulation, we introduced a highly portable and low-cost immersive neurosurgical simulator into a nationwide curriculum for neurosurgery residents, during years 2016 to 2019. METHODS: The simulator was deployed at 9 Society of Neurological Surgeons junior resident courses and a Congress of Neurological Surgeons education course for a cohort of 526 residents. Heart rate was tracked to monitor physiological responses to simulated stress. Experiential survey data were collected to evaluate simulator fidelity and resident attitudes toward simulation. RESULTS: Residents rated the simulator positively with a statistically significant increase in satisfaction over time accompanying refinements in the simulator model and clinical scenario. The simulated complications induced stress-related tachycardia in most participants (n = 249); however, a cohort of participants was identified that experienced significant bradycardia (n = 24) in response to simulated stress. CONCLUSION: Incorporation of immersive neurosurgical simulation into the US national curriculum is logistically feasible and cost-effective for neurosurgical learners. Participant surveys and physiological data suggest that the simulation model recreates the situational physiological stress experienced during practice in the live clinical environment. Simulation may provide an opportunity to identify trainees with maladaptive responses to operative stress who could benefit from additional simulated exposure to mitigate stress impacts on performance.
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