Video Gamers Better Than Residents at Robotic Surgery


Robotic surgical procedures and training programs are becoming an increasingly popular area of research. In one of our previous blog posts, we reported that some surgeons have used the Microsoft Xbox Kinect video games console to help their precision during a procedure. The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), which has one of the nation’s leading robotic surgery department, was interested in seeing what developmental effects video games may have on future robotic surgeons, as reported by POPSCI.

To test this, UTMB compared how well high school students, college students, and residents from the robotic surgery program did on the UTMB’s robotic training simulator. The tasks included suturing, passing off needles, and other similar tasks, and they were measured on how well they accomplished the tasks, how much tension was put on the instruments, and hand-eye coordination.

Dr. Sami Kilic, director of Texas Robotic Gynecology for UTMB, predicted that students who regularly played video games (2 hours a day for high school sophomores, and 4 hours a day for college students) would be primed for virtual surgery tools. The study shows that video-gaming students did slightly better than the training residents at UTMB.

Video gamers are though to be time wasters, but video games may actually help train hand-eye coordination, which is important for surgery, especially robotic surgery. Surgeons are only recently learning how to use these robotic surgery tools through simulators. However, future generations of doctors who grew up playing video games, may be quicker learners when it comes to new robotic surgical procedures.