New technologies for the surgical curriculum

World J Surg. 2008 Feb;32(2):213-6. doi: 10.1007/s00268-007-9338-2.


The aim of a surgical residency program is to produce competent professionals displaying the cognitive, technical, and personal skills required to meet the needs of society. Current changes to the delivery of healthcare necessitate the development of new models of training. These can be supported with the development of new technologies to train and assess surgical practitioners. This article describes recent developments within Imperial College London with regard to eye tracking, noninvasive brain imaging, and an innovative mentoring scheme for the new surgical curriculum. The concept of eye tracking is described, together with surgical application for this technique in terms of dexterity analysis during minimally invasive procedures. We have also begun to understand spatial localization within the brain cortex during surgical knot-tying tasks. The aim is to develop a map of the cortex with regard to surgical novices and experienced surgeons and then to develop the hypothesis that a translational process of cortical plasticity occurs during training. Finally, the article is intended to describe a training scheme that goes beyond dexterity, and moves toward the development of a successful surgeon through surgical mentoring. It is hoped that some of these tools will enhance the training of future surgeons in order to continue to provide a high-quality service to our patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Competency-Based Education / trends*
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction / instrumentation
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction / trends
  • Educational Technology / trends*
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • User-Computer Interface*