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Home E-Weekly February 3, 2015

Can Visualization Enhance a Surgeon's Skills?

Published: February 2, 2015

Surgeons who mentally prepare themselves for surgery may perform better — especially in an emergency — than those who don't, a new study finds.

The study, published in January's British Journal of Surgery, looked at 20 senior surgical trainees who were divided into conventional training and mental practice groups prior to performing a complicated surgery. Those in the mental practice group were trained by an expert performance psychologist and given a "script" of each step during the surgery to help them visualize the procedure.

The residents then performed a simulated jejunojejunostomy on a pig's intestine. During the surgeries, researchers threw the residents a curve ball by telling them their "patient" had gone into anaphylactic shock and they had to react. The study found that both groups had similar stress levels during the mock emergency, but that the group which had mentally prepared performed better.

Researchers say that while the study looked at residents, they believe visualization could be beneficial to practicing surgeons. "We certainly feel that this is a concept that has worked very well in professional sports and music especially, and we should be aware of this opportunity and use it more in our daily practice," says Dr. Teodor Grantcharov, the study's lead author.

Kendal Gapinski

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