Performance of laparoscopic surgery requires adequate hand-eye coordination. Video games are an effective way to judge one's hand-eye coordination, and practicing these games may improve one's skills. Our goal was to see if there is a correlation between skill in video games and skill in laparoscopy. Also, we hoped to demonstrate that practicing video games can improve one's laparoscopic skills.
Eleven medical students (nine male, two female) volunteered to participate. On day 1, each student played three commercially available video games (Top Spin, XSN Sports; Project Gotham Racing 2, Bizarre Creations; and Amped 2, XSN Sports) for 30 minutes on an X-box (Microsoft, Seattle, WA) and was judged both objectively and subjectively. Next, the students performed four laparoscopic tasks (object transfer, tracing a figure-of-eight, suture placement, and knot-tying) in a swine model and were assessed for time to complete the task, number of errors committed, and hand-eye coordination. The students were then randomized to control (group A) or "training" (i.e., video game practicing; group B) arms. Two weeks later, all students repeated the laparoscopic skills laboratory and were reassessed.
Spearman correlation coefficients demonstrated a significant relation between many of the parameters, particularly time to complete each task and hand-eye coordination at the different games. There was a weaker association between video game performance and both laparoscopic errors committed and hand-eye coordination. Group B subjects did not improve significantly over those in group A in any measure (P >0.05 for all).
Video game aptitude appears to predict the level of laparoscopic skill in the novice surgeon. In this study, practicing video games did not improve one's laparoscopic skill significantly, but a larger study with more practice time could prove games to be helpful.