• Determining the Effect of External Stressors and Cognitive Distraction on Microsurgical Skills and Performance.

      Carr, Shane; McDermott, Bronwyn Reid; McInerney, Niall; Hussey, Alan; Byrne, D; Potter, Shirley (2020-01-22)
      Introduction: Microsurgery is an essential element of Plastic Surgery practice. There is a paucity of studies assessing the impact of stress and cognitive distraction on technical microsurgical performance. The ability to complete cognitive and technical skills in parallel has not been assessed in a microsurgical setting. Aim: To test the hypothesis that cognitive distraction and external stressors negatively affect microsurgical performance in a high fidelity simulation setting. Materials/Methods: Fourteen surgeons across all levels of training undertook 2 microsurgical skills sessions, 1 month apart. Session one established baseline microsurgical skill. In session two, skills were assessed with the introduction of realistic operative room cognitive distractions (ORDIs). Outcome measures were efficiency and accuracy, measured by Time to Completion (TTC) and Anastomosis Lapse Index (ALI), respectively. Key Results: Fourteen participants (6 novices, 5 plastic surgery specialist trainees and 3 consultants) completed both microsurgical skills sessions. In total, 28-microvascular anastomosis were analyzed. Mean baseline TTC for the group was 20.36 min. With cognitive distraction and external stress mean TTC decreased to 17.87 min. Mean baseline ALI score for the group was 3.32 errors per anastomosis. The introduction of cognitive distraction and external stress increased the mean to 4.86 errors per anastomosis. Total errors per anastomosis increased from 91 errors at baseline to 137 errors with cognitive distraction and external stress. Under stress, participants were more efficient but had reduced anastomotic accuracy. Conclusion: Under stress, surgeons were more efficient, this translated into faster completion of a microsurgical anastomosis. Efficiency, however, came at the expense of accuracy.