Acquisition of basic ear surgery skills: A randomized comparison between endoscopic and microscopic techniques

Lukas Anschuetz, Daniel Stricker, Abraam Yacoub, Wilhelm Wimmer, Marco Caversaccio, Sören Huwendiek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Endoscopic ear surgery is gaining increasing popularity and has an important impact on teaching middle ear anatomy and basic surgical skills among residents and fellows. Due to the wide-angled views offered, the approach significantly differs from the established microscopic technique. This randomized study compares the acquisition of basic ear-surgery skills using the endoscopic and microscopic technique under standardized conditions. We aim to investigate the required surgical times, attempts and accidental damages to surrounding structures (errors) in surgeons with different training levels. Methods: Final-year medical students (n = 9), residents (n = 14) and consultants (n = 10) from the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at the University Hospital of Bern, Switzerland were enrolled in the present study. After randomization every participant had to complete a standard set of grasping and dissecting surgical tasks in a temporal bone model. After the first session the participants were crossed over to the other technique. Results: Time required for completion of the surgical tasks was similar for both techniques, but highly dependent on the training status. A significant increase in the number of damages to the ossicular chain was observed with the microscopic as compared to the endoscopic technique (p < 0.001). Moreover, students beginning with the endoscopic technique showed an overall significantly lower amount of time to complete the tasks (p = 0.04). From the subjective feedback a preference towards the endoscopic technique mainly in medical students was observed. Conclusions: The endoscopic approach is useful and beneficial for teaching basic surgical skills, mainly by providing a reduction of damage to surrounding tissues with similar operating times for both techniques. Moreover, medical students performed significantly faster, when first taught in the endoscopic technique. Especially for young surgeons without previous training in ear surgery, the endoscope should be considered to improve surgical skills in the middle ear.

Original languageEnglish
Article number357
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 14 Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Education
  • Endoscope
  • Endoscopic ear surgery
  • Microscope
  • Surgical skills
  • Teaching


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