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Surg Endosc. 2001 Mar;15(3):245-50. Epub 2000 Dec 12.

A pilot study of new approaches to teaching anatomy and pathology.

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University of Kentucky College of Medicine, 800 Rose Street, Lexington, Kentucky 40536-0293, USA.



Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) has impacted patient care as well as medical training. New medical education opportunities have emerged with MIS. In this pilot study we explore the role of live, interactive MIS to augment and strengthen specific segments of the undergraduate medical curriculum.


Laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) was selected to demonstrate upper abdominal anatomy and pathology. Second year medical students (n=100) in the course of their GI pathology classes attended live LC telesurgery-the telesurgery student group (TSG). Because of technical difficulties, a second class of medical students (n=90) was shown the tape of the MIS procedure one year later instead of the live surgery-the videotape surgery group (VSG). Background clinical information was provided by the program director and the durgeon. During the live and taped LC broadcast living anatomy was demonstrated and a diseased gallbladder was resected. TSG students were able to ask questions of the program director and the surgeon and vice versa using telesurgery technology. After the procedure, the surgeon met with the students for further discussion. VSG students were able to ask questions of the program director during and after the program. Both groups of students completed a pre- and posttest using remote audience responders. Students' responses from the two groups were compared for selected test and evaluation items.


Pre-test (Cronbach's alpha=.10) and post-test (Cronbach's alpha =.28) data were obtained from 73 students in the TSG and.22 and.54 respectively from 69 students in the VSG. A significant increase in laparoscopic anatomy knowledge was observed from pretest to posttest for the VSG (31-55%) and from the TSG (30-61%). The majority of VSG students (68%) indicated the method used to teach was outstanding, and 87% indicated that the program was outstanding in keeping their interest. This is contrasted with only 24% of the TSG group responding that the teaching method was outstanding, and 41% indicated that the program was outstanding in keeping their interest.


Medical students can productively be exposed to surgical methods and living anatomy using telesurgery. The high regard the TSG students had for this program suggests that it can be used effectively to teach and inspire medical students. The positive results have encouraged us to have a backup instructional method such as a tape of the MIS procedure, it apparently does not have the positive impact of live surgery.

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