Is three-dimensional videography the cutting edge of surgical skill acquisition?

Anat Sci Educ. May-Jun 2012;5(3):138-45. doi: 10.1002/ase.1262. Epub 2012 Jan 25.


The process of learning new surgical technical skills is vital to the career of a surgeon. The acquisition of these new skills is influenced greatly by visual-spatial ability (VSA) and may be difficult for some learners to rapidly assimilate. In many cases, the role of VSA on the acquisition of a novel technical skill has been explored; however, none have probed the impact of a three-dimensional (3D) video learning module on the acquisition of new surgical skills. The first aim of this study is to capture spatially complex surgical translational flaps using 3D videography and incorporate the footage into a self-contained e-learning module designed in line with the principles of cognitive load theory. The second aim is to assess the efficacy of 3D video as a medium to support the acquisition of complex surgical skills in novice surgeons as evaluated using a global ratings scale. It is hypothesized that the addition of depth in 3D viewing will augment the learner's innate visual spatial abilities, thereby enhancing skill acquisition compared to two-dimensional viewing of the same procedure. Despite growing literature suggesting that 3D correlates directly to enhanced skill acquisition, this study did not differentiate significant results contributing to increased surgical performance. This topic will continue to be explored using more sensitive scales of measurement and more complex "open procedures" capitalizing on the importance of depth perception in surgical manipulation. Anat Sci Educ. © 2012 American Association of Anatomists.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Cognition
  • Computer Graphics*
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods*
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Learning Curve
  • Linear Models
  • Motor Skills*
  • Ontario
  • Program Evaluation
  • Space Perception
  • Surgical Flaps*
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / education*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Video Recording*
  • Visual Perception