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Extent of innate dexterity and ambidexterity across handedness and gender: Implications for training in laparoscopic surgery

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Abstract

Background

As innate dexterity is considered one of the important predictors of eventual operative competence, an experimental human factors study was conducted to determine innate dexterity and ambidexterity across handedness and gender.

Methods

50 medical students (right-handed males, left-handed males, and right-handed females) were recruited as participants in a study designed to assess innate dexterity and degree of ambidexterity for endoscopic manipulations in a validated virtual-reality simulator. All participants performed unilateral and bilateral tasks with both dominant and nondominant hands in random sequence. The outcome measures were execution time, extent of ambidexterity (ambidexterity index), aiming errors, and maximum tissue damage.

Results

Right-handed males exhibited a greater level of ambidexterity than left-handed males (p = 0.02 for path length, p = 0.001 for angular path) and right-handed females (p = 0.01 for path length, p = 0.02 for angular path), and more-efficient task performance as measured by execution time (p = 0.001 for males and p = 0.03 across gender). The task quality when executed by the dominant hand was best in right-handed males (p = 0.001 vs. left-dominant males and p = 0.03 across gender). No significant difference was observed in terms of precision control and fine movements (aiming errors and maximum tissue damage) between the three groups.

Conclusions

These findings indicate that training surgical curricula in laparoscopic surgery should be more flexible to accommodate the innate differences across handedness and gender.

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Correspondence to A. Cuschieri.

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Elneel, F.H.F., Carter, F., Tang, B. et al. Extent of innate dexterity and ambidexterity across handedness and gender: Implications for training in laparoscopic surgery. Surg Endosc 22, 31–37 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00464-007-9533-0

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00464-007-9533-0

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