Dr. Sami Kilic oversees doctors training to become surgeons at a hospital in Galveston, Texas, and he’s also the parent of a teenage boy. Like many parents, Kilic is concerned about how much time his son spends playing videogames. But now he’s also worried that his resident physicians aren’t playing them enough.
According to a study by Kilic and others at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, doling out death in the virtual world of first-person-shooter games might help the next generation of surgeons save lives in the real world. The study, presented at a meeting of the American Gynecologic Laparoscopists in Las Vegas in November, used simulators to compare the robotic surgery skills of med school residents against college and high school students who spend a lot of their time playing videogames — and the videogamers won.
Robotic surgery — where robotic machinery helps surgeons perform certain tasks through very small incisions — is growing rapidly, despite the criticism that these procedures are expensive and may not be any more safe than traditional minimally invasive operations. In recent years, around 75 percent of all prostate cancer surgeries are now done with Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci Surgical Systems machines, according to the company (.pdf).
Intuitive Surgical – which currently enjoys a monopoly on robotic surgery equipment — also reports (.pdf) that there was a 29 percent increase in robotic-assisted surgeries from 2010 to 2010, and the number climbed another 24 percent from 2011 to 2012. For better or worse, the next generation of surgeons will likely need to learn to operate robotic equipment.
Read the complete article at Wired.