Gameplay hones surgeons' skills

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 December, 2004, 12:00am

So you're a bit groggy from the drugs, and as you are being wheeled into the operating room, you spot those dreadful tools: the scalpel, the hand drill, the needles, the ... wait a second, is that PlayStation 2?

Lo Chung-mau, professor of surgery at the University of Hong Kong, says conducting a keyhole operation, where surgeons operate with the help of a monitor connected to a scope placed in the patient, is a bit similar to playing video games. 'Both require good co-operation of eyes, brain and hands, so in a way it makes sense to train surgeons with specially designed video games.'

According to James Rosser, director of the Advanced Medical Technologies Institute at Beth Israel Medical Centre in New York, surgeons who play video games three hours a week have 37 per cent fewer errors and accomplish tasks 27 per cent faster, based on results of tests using the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

But Dr Lo warns: 'In a video game, game over means you can restart, but in an operation you don't get a second chance.'