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J Surg Educ. 2011 Mar-Apr;68(2):148-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2010.11.005. Epub 2011 Jan 13.

Training surgical skills using nonsurgical tasks--can Nintendo Wii™ improve surgical performance?

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Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland.



It has been suggested that abilities in nonsurgical tasks may translate to the surgical setting, with video gaming attracting particular attention because of the obvious similarities in the skills required. The aim of this study was to assign laparoscopic novices prospectively to receive a period of structured practice on the Nintendo Wii™ (Nintendo of America, Inc, Redmond, Washington) and compare their performance of basic laparoscopic tasks before and after this session to control subjects.


In all, 22 medical students with no prior laparoscopic or video game experience were recruited to the study. They were randomized into 2 groups: group 1 served as the control and group 2 was the Wii™ group. All subjects performed 2 physical (bead transfer and glove cutting) and 1 virtual laparoscopic simulated tasks on the ProMIS surgical simulator (Haptica, Boston, Massachusetts). Performance metrics were measured. The same tasks were repeated an average of 7 days later, and between the 2 sessions, the subjects in the Wii™ group had structured practice sessions on the Wii™ video game.


Taken together, all subjects improved their performance significantly from session 1 to session 2. For the physical tasks, the Wii™ group performed better on session 2 for all metrics but not significantly. The Wii™ group showed a significant performance improvement for one metric in the bead transfer task compared with controls. For the virtual task, there was no significant improvement between sessions 1 and 2.


The novice subjects demonstrated a steep learning curve between their first and second attempts at the laparoscopic tasks. Practicing on the Wii™ was associated with a trend toward a better performance on session 2, although the difference was not significant. This finding suggests that a more intensive practice schedule may be associated with a better performance, and we propose that training on non-surgical tasks may be a cheap, convenient, and effective addition to current training curricula.

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