Do gamers make better surgeons?

Something I had not seen before coming to the U.S. was robotic surgery, even though some UK centres do offer it.

Leonardo da Vinci has had many attributes associated with his name, but what would he think of being eponymously associated with prostate surgery?

da Vinci surgery uses advanced invasive robotics to perform procedures such as hysterectomies, prostatectomies and even mitral valve surgery. The manufacturers claim many advantages from decreased blood loss to the sparing of nerves. It is a shock to walk into a room where the patient appears to have been grasped by a giant mechanical spider, with the legs moving within the patient’s abdomen. The surgeon is nowhere to be seen and if you ask the nurse she will point to a figure hunched behind a box in the corner of the room. Peak behind and you will see a magnificently magnified view from within the patient abdomen from positions you would never see in an open procedure. The surgeon appears to be playing an advanced musical device as the instruments are directed from within.

If you watch a game junky play on their PC, PlayStation or Xbox, the manual dexterity and eye-hand co-ordination is something to behold. So will the next generation of gaming computer nerds be the da Vinci surgeons of the future. A study in 2007 suggests that this may be so. Researchers found that doctors who spent at least three hours a week playing video games made about 37 percent fewer mistakes in laparoscopic surgery and performed the task 27 percent faster than their counterparts who did not play video games.

Even though I am not a surgeon will this evidence be enough to convince my wife of our latest purchase?

Sean Neill is a South African-born, British-trained anesthesiologist, who
recently relocated to Midwestern USA. He blogs regularly at OnMedica about his cross-cultural experience, frequently
pointing out oddities of American health care.

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  1. According to a new study published in the Archives of Surgery, surgeons who put in their downtime playing video games proved to have considerably higher surgical skills than their non-gamer co-workers, in particular when it came to laparoscopic surgery, which involves manipulating instruments while staring at a monitor.
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