The educational impact of technology-enhanced learning in regional anaesthesia: a scoping review

Mairead Savage*, Andrew Spence, Lloyd Turbitt

*Corresponding author for this work

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Effective training in regional anaesthesia (RA) is paramount to ensuring widespread competence. Technology-based learning has assisted other specialties in achieving more rapid procedural skill acquisition. If applicable to RA, technology-enhanced training has the potential to provide an effective learning experience and to overcome barriers to RA training. We review the current evidence base for use of innovative technologies in assisting learning of RA.

Using scoping review methodology, three databases (MEDLINE, Embase, and Web of Science) were searched, identifying 158 relevant citations. Citations were screened against defined eligibility criteria with 27 studies selected for inclusion. Data relating to study details, technological learning interventions, and impact on learner experience were extracted and analysed.

Seven different technologies were used to train learners in RA: artificial intelligence, immersive virtual reality, desktop virtual reality, needle guidance technology, robotics, augmented reality, and haptic feedback devices. Of 27 studies, 26 reported a positive impact of technology-enhanced RA training, with different technologies offering benefits for differing components of RA training. Artificial intelligence improved sonoanatomical knowledge and ultrasound skills for RA, whereas needle guidance technologies enhanced confidence and improved needling performance, particularly in novices. Immersive virtual reality allowed more rapid acquisition of needling skills, but its functionality was limited when combined with haptic feedback technology. User friendly technologies enhanced participant experience and improved confidence in RA; however, limitations in technology-assisted RA training restrict its widespread use.

Technology-enhanced RA training can provide a positive and effective learning experience, with potential to reduce the steep learning curve associated with gaining RA proficiency. A combined approach to RA education, using both technological and traditional approaches, should be maintained as no single method has been shown to provide comprehensive RA training.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Early online date31 May 2024
Publication statusEarly online date - 31 May 2024

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