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Taxonomy of instructions given to residents in laparoscopic cholecystectomy



Although simulation-based training allows residents to become proficient in surgical skills outside the OR, residents still depend on senior surgeons’ guidance in transferring skills accumulated from simulators into the operating room. This study aimed to identify and classify explicit instructions made by attending surgeons to their residents during laparoscopic surgery. Through these instructions, we examined the role gaze guidance plays in OR-based training.


A total of ten laparoscopic cholecystectomy cases being performed by PGY4 residents were analyzed. The explicit directional instructions given by the mentoring attending surgeons to their residents were identified and classified into four categories based on their locations in the coordinate system. These categories were further combined into two classes, based on the target of instructions. The frequencies of instructions in the two classes were compared, and effect size was calculated.


There were 1984 instructions identified in the ten cases. The instructions were categorized into instrument guidance (38.51 %) and gaze guidance (61.49 %). The instrument guidance focused on moving the instruments to perform surgical tasks, including directions to targets, instrument manipulation, and instrument interaction. The gaze guidance focused on achieving common ground during the operation, including target identification and target fixation. The frequency of gaze guidance is significantly higher than instrument guidance in a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (p < 0.001) with a large effect size (r = 0.6).


Gaze guidance has become the main focus of OR-based training. The results show a tight connection between adopting expert gaze and performing surgical tasks and suggest that gaze training should be integrated into the simulation training.

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The authors would like to acknowledge Amine Chellali for his support in data collection. This work was sponsored by NSF Grant IIS–1422671.


Ms. Feng, Mr. Wong, Dr. Park, and Dr. Mentis have no conflict of interest or financial ties to disclose.

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Correspondence to Yuanyuan Feng.

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Feng, Y., Wong, C., Park, A. et al. Taxonomy of instructions given to residents in laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Surg Endosc 30, 1073–1077 (2016).

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  • Surgical training
  • Simulation-based training
  • OR-based training
  • Gaze training
  • Instrument guidance