Background: Although experience within the operating room can help surgeons learn simple bone-drilling techniques, outside training may be better suited for complex procedures. We adapted a rotary handpiece with dual trigger and drilling attachments to a haptic device to train and evaluate motor skills of orthopaedic resident physicians outside of the operating room.

Methods: A total of 7 participants with varying levels of skill in orthopaedic surgery were asked to perform a task three times: drill a hole (at 45° from the normal angle) through both cortices of a synthetic diaphysis of a distal radius. Acceleration and acoustic data were collected using accelerometers, a microphone, and a data acquisition system. A total of 14 independent and dependent variables were measured and a correlation matrix was generated.

Results: A total of 24 statistically significant correlations related to bone drilling were found (P ≤ 0.10). Experienced participants pitched the drill forward, whereas inexperienced users rotated the drill away from their body, resulting in a greater over-penetration distance.

Conclusion: Users who pitch the drill forward may find the drill easier to control, and high-velocity drilling without bracing the elbow against the body may result in over penetration of the bone. Results of a study with more participants can further specify differences in technique between surgeons of varying motor-skill levels, which may help develop more effective training programs outside of the operating room.

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