Depth cue reliance in surgeons and medical students

Surg Endosc. 2003 Sep;17(9):1472-4. doi: 10.1007/s00464-002-9178-y. Epub 2003 Jun 17.


Background: Depth perception is reduced in endoscopic surgery, although little is known about the effect this has on surgical performance.

Methods: To assess the role of depth cues, 45 subjects completed tests of depth cue reliance. Surgical skill was assessed using the Minimally Invasive Surgical Trainer-Virtual Reality, a previously validated laparoscopic simulator.

Results: We could demonstrate no difference in cue reliance for three depth cues--namely stereo, texture, and outline--between surgeons and medical students. Greater dominance on stereo for medical students was a positive finding and a negative finding for the surgeons when correlated with surgical performance.

Conclusions: We suggest that surgeons learn to adapt to the nonstereo environment in MIS, and this is the first study to show evidence of this phenomenon. This difference in stereo reliance is a reflection of the experience that surgeons have with laparoscopy compared with medical students, who have none.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cholecystectomy, Laparoscopic
  • Clinical Competence
  • Computer Graphics
  • Computer Simulation
  • Cues*
  • Depth Perception*
  • Endoscopy*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • General Surgery*
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Man-Machine Systems
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • User-Computer Interface
  • Vision Tests