Hypnosis Induced Mental Training Improves Performance on the Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery Simulator

Gideon Sroka, MD, MSc, Monica Laniado, MD, Zahi Arnon, PhD, Elad Schief, MD, Ibrahim Matter, MD. Department of General Surgery(1), Complementary & Alternative Medicine Services(2) Bnai-Zion Medical Center, Haifa, Israel.

Background: mental training is used extensively by musicians and athletes to improve their performance. Recently it has been suggested as a training method for surgical trainees. We assessed the influence of mental training, induced by hypnosis, on the performance of simulated task on a laparoscopic simulator, as compared to non-specific relaxing intervention.

Methods: 10 surgeons who completed proficiency based training program on the Fundamentals of Laparosopic Surgery (FLS) simulator, reached their plateau performance of the peg transfer task. They were exposed to music session as a relaxing intervention, then performed the task. Following a washout period they went through a hypnosis session guided by an experienced psychologist, with a suggestion of smooth flow of pegs from one position on the board to another, and re-performed the task.

Results: plateau performance was 51.6±8.3 sec. After the music session performance improved by 5.9 % to 48.3±6.4 sec. (p=0.03). After the mental training session performance further improved by 12.8% to 42±6 sec. (p=0.001), which was 18.2% improvement from plateau (p=0.0007). Subject’s satisfaction from performance was 4.3±2.3 on 1-10 VAS after the music, and reached as high as 8.7±0.7 after the mental training session.

Conclusions: mental training significantly improves performance on the FLS simulator, which can not be attributed to its relaxing qualities alone. This study contributes evidence to the effectiveness of mental training in surgical skills acquisition. There is a need to further study its effect on operating room performance.

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