EAU15: E-BLUS exam helps to standardise laparoscopic skill levels

Mon, 23 Mar 2015

During the annual congress, the European School of Urology (ESU) organises European-Basic Laparoscopic Urological Skills (E-BLUS) exams. These exams are designed to objectively measure the examinee’s skills in laparoscopy, including depth perception, bimanual dexterity, and general confidence and efficiency.

“The E-BLUS exam is based on a defined curriculum of four different tasks,” explains Mr. Attila Suersal (DE), exam coordinator from Olympus. “The candidate’s speed and accuracy are tested with the peg transfer, circle cutting, needle guidance, and knot tying tasks,” Suersal continues. “It is a tough exam.”

Only 20-30% of candidates pass the exam on their first attempt. According to Suersal this is because most examinees underestimate how much practice is needed. On average, candidates need 8-12 month of practice before they are skilled enough to pass the E-BLUS exam. Training is possible at various EAU meetings, and most university hospitals also offer the possibility to practice. It is even possible to train at home, with apps for tablets or by creating your own practice station.

Many have registered to take the exam on the third and last day of the exhibition, and they patiently wait outside the two examination rooms until one of the stations opens up. Dr. Antonio Tienza (ES) is preparing and staying focused while waiting to start with his second exam. The first time he failed on the circle cutting test: “You need to be fast and the lines in between which you have to cut are quite close together.”

The E-BLUS exam helps to create a standardised basic level of laparoscopic skills. Recently, the ESU restricted registration for intermediate level courses to those who have passed the E-BLUS exam. That way ESU can guarantee that all participants have the basic skills necessary to successfully take part in these courses.

Inside the examination room, every candidate is paired up with a tutor who also functions as examiner. After 15 minutes of training and some last-minute advice from the tutor, the exam begins and the candidate’s performance is recorded. One of the tutors has a few more encouraging words: “Now I want to see your best run yet, let’s do it.” The candidates won’t know if they passed the exam until after the recordings are evaluated and scored by the ESU after the congress.