BACKGROUND: The authors present a prospective, randomized, blinded trial comparing the educational efficacy of digital animation versus a textbook in teaching the Ivy loop technique to novice learners. METHODS: Medical student volunteers (n = 32) were anonymously videotaped as they fastened dental wire to the teeth of a skull model (preintervention analysis) and then were randomly assigned to one of two study groups. The animation and text groups (n = 16 each) were shown either a digital animation or textbook demonstrating the Ivy loop surgical technique. Volunteers were then videotaped as they performed the technique (postintervention analysis). Volunteers were then shown the educational material provided to the other study group and given a validated educational survey to compare the educational value of both materials. Preintervention and postintervention video recordings were graded using a validated surgical competency scale. Surgical performance grades, time to task completion, and educational survey scores were compared. RESULTS: Preintervention analysis performance scores did not significantly differ between the animation and text groups (10.7 [2.8] versus 11.1 [3.9]; p = 0.74), but postintervention analysis demonstrated significantly higher performance scores in the animation group (18.8 [2.9] versus 13.0 [3.5]; p < 0.001). Time to task completion was similar. The educational survey demonstrated significantly higher scores in the animation group. CONCLUSIONS: A prospective, randomized, blinded study comparing the educational efficacy of a surgical textbook to digital animation demonstrates that, in novice learners, digital animation is a more effective tool for learning the Ivy loop technique. Test takers found digital animation to be the superior educational medium.
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