A prospective study of the effect of video games on robotic surgery skills using the high-fidelity virtual reality RobotiX simulator

Adv Med Educ Pract. 2019 Aug 14;10:627-634. doi: 10.2147/AMEP.S199323. eCollection 2019.


Background: Robot-assisted surgery is a growing field. Prior video game experience might give advantage to novice robotic surgeons.

Aim: Assessing if prior video gaming experience gives advantage in performing high-fidelity virtual reality (VR)-simulated robotic surgery.

Methods: In this observational study, 30 medical students and 2 interns (17 females; 15 males) with median age 25 years (range, 24-26 years) were recruited and subsequently divided into groups according to prior gaming experience; gamers (≥6 video game hours/week) vs nongamers (<6 video game hours/week). Participants performed VR-simulated urethrovesical anastomosis on RobotiX Mentor, which measured performance parameters. Participants answered a questionnaire for demographics and gaming experience. Groups were compared using Mann-Whitney U and multiple regression.

Results: Gamers significantly outperformed nongamers in 3 of 24 performance metrics (p<0.05), and there was a trend toward better results for 7 of the 21 remaining metrics. Males outperformed females in 5 of 24 metrics (p<0.05) but were overrepresented among gamers.

Conclusion: Prior video game experience >6 hrs/week might give advantage in simulated robotic surgery. We recommend future studies testing this hypothesis to develop simulator programs for certification of robotic surgeons.

Keywords: computer simulation; procedure specific; robot-assisted surgery; video game; virtual reality.