Using virtual reality simulation for transvaginal ultrasound scan training

Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust

  • Project led by Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Focused on transvaginal ultrasound (TVU) training in large teaching hospitals across the West Midlands and Severn deaneries.
  • Aimed to improve patient care and provide a cost-effective way for trainees to gain practical TVU skills and experience away from a clinical setting.
  • Developed a TVU training curriculum based on virtual reality simulation, using Medaphor transvaginal ScanTrainer® equipment.

The Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust team developed a transvaginal ultrasound (TVU) training curriculum based on virtual reality simulation, to enable trainees to gain practical skills and experience away from a clinical setting.

The aims of the project were to:

  • improve patient care by reducing the anxiety and discomfort caused by unnecessary TVU for training purposes
  • improve the efficiency of scan lists
  • reduce training costs while maintaining high professional standards
  • assess the effectiveness of simulated learning and whether it translates to clinical ability.

The team recruited 25 trainees to undertake simulation training using Medaphor transvaginal ScanTrainer® equipment. They also recruited a control group with no exposure to simulation training, to measure the impact of the intervention on the time taken to achieve competency and the overall cost of training

Who was involved

The project was led by a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology. The project team included staff from University Hospital of North Staffordshire, Liverpool John Moores University and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, as well as representatives from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.


The team wanted to compare simulation and conventional training using two cohorts of trainees, but this was not feasible due to variation in the time taken to complete conventional training, rota constraints and technological problems. Trainees found the simulator difficult and frustrating, leading to disengagement. 

In response, the project team examined the validity of the simulator. They found that the core modules provided valid skills tests but the advanced modules did not, with 15 expert testers unable to achieve a pass. The validity testers rated simulation as a useful training tool for teaching a systematic approach, hand-eye coordination and practicing basic skills.

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