Spatial ability, experience, and skill in laparoscopic surgery

Madeleine M. Keehner, Frank Tendick, Maxwell V. Meng, Haroon P. Anwar, Mary Hegarty, Marshall L. Stoller, Quan-Yang Duh

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    115 Citations (Scopus)


    Background Previous research showing correlations between spatial ability and surgical skills has used participants in relatively early stages of training. Research in skill acquisition has shown that the role of cognitive abilities can diminish as skills become increasingly automatic. In this study, we explored the role of spatial ability in laparoscopic surgical skills in two groups, one experienced and the other relatively inexperienced. Methods Subjects were recruited from two videoscopic courses: an advanced course for experienced surgeons and a laparoscopic urological surgery course attended by participants with relatively little laparoscopic experience. Three measures were obtained: spatial abilities, videoscopic experience, and operative skills. Results A significant correlation (r = 0.393) was found between spatial ability and skills in the lower experience group but not among the experienced surgeons (r = 0.020). Conclusions The results are consistent with the prediction that the importance of spatial ability in performance of laparoscopic skills should diminish with experience.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)71-75
    Number of pages5
    JournalAmerican Journal of Surgery
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004


    • Psychometrics
    • Spatial ability
    • Skill acquisition
    • Laparoscopic surgery


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