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Video-Gaming Docs May Make Better Surgeons

Best players made 47% fewer errors when performing laparoscopy, study found

MONDAY, Feb. 19, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Blasting aliens in video games may help improve a surgeon's skills, suggest researchers at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.

The study of 12 surgeons and 21 surgical residents found that those who were skilled in video games did better in simulated laparoscopic surgery drills.

Of the surgeons who took part in the study, 15 said they'd never played video games, nine reported playing zero to three hours per week, and nine reported playing more than three hours per week at the peak of their game playing.

During the study, the researchers also watched the surgeons play video games in order to assess their gaming skills.

"Surgeons who had played video games in the past for more than three hours per week made 37 percent fewer errors, were 27 percent faster, and scored 42 percent better overall than surgeons who never played video games," the study authors wrote.

"Current video game players made 32 percent fewer errors, were 24 percent faster and scored 26 percent better overall than their non-player colleagues," they added.

Surgeons ranked in the top third of video game skill made 47 percent fewer errors, performed 39 percent faster, and scored 41 percent better than those in the bottom third of video game skills.

The study is published in the February issue of the journal Archives of Surgery.

"Training curricula that include video games may help thin the technical interface between surgeons and screen-mediated applications, such as laparoscopic surgery," the study authors wrote. "Video games may be a practical teaching tool to help train surgeons."

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about laparoscopy.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Feb. 19, 2007
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