The Sims: Surgery Edition
A surgical simulation that accurately depicts real surgical skills
Geoffrey Potjewyd | | 2 min read | News
Today’s society is rife with simulators. They range from video games in which you can simulate farming or building a PC to more practical applications, such as those that allow people to experience and learn surgical techniques. But can a simulator accurately teach real-life surgical skills? This is the question researchers from the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, sought to answer for a virtual simulator designed to train retinal surgeons (1).
Less experienced surgeons recorded a major improvement in surgical skill following repeated use of the simulator, whereas more experienced staff saw a smaller improvement – to be expected, because they had less to learn. To further test the accuracy of the simulator, the surgeons’ “weaker” hands were then tested, with a significant drop in performance compared with use of their dominant hands.
In a more interesting plot twist, the surgeons were then tasked with performing the surgical simulation following either sleep deprivation (17 hours awake), a large cup of coffee, or two shots of tequila! Unsurprisingly, researchers found that neither sleep deprivation nor alcohol did any favors to surgical performance, but the coffee induced a slight improvement. Overall, the virtual reality simulator proved to be an accurate representation of real-life surgical skill and also showed good potential as a training tool for younger ophthalmologists. In addition to training and predicting surgical skill, the simulator could also be used to examine the effects of environmental factors on surgical performance, which could inform policy on shifts taken by surgeons and the safety of using stimulants in the workplace.
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- FA Adatia et al., Transl Vis Sci Technol, 11, 16 (2022). PMID: 35980671.