Background and Purpose: Laparoscopic surgery is well known as having a long and variable learning curve. In fact, successive generations of surgeons were able to reduce their operative time and plateau their learning curves. This raises the question as to how early in medical education we can integrate laparoscopic skills. In this study, we are trying to demonstrate the effect of age on acquiring new laparoscopic skills. Methods: Thirty-two trainees at various educational levels and ages were recruited to our study. Trainees were divided into four age groups with eight persons in each group. Senior high school students, undergraduate college students, medical students, and junior surgery residents comprised the first, second, third, and the fourth groups, respectively. The trainees performed nine inanimate laparoscopic tasks in the laparoscopic training box and repeated each task five times. The time needed for each trial was recorded, and the results were statistically analyzed. Results: The youngest group of trainees showed the largest improvement in performance time, followed by the second and third groups. The most senior group showed the least improvement. Conclusion: These preliminary data suggest that younger trainees are faster to acquire new laparoscopic skills than the older persons. This finding suggests a potential benefit from earlier integration of laparoscopic skills in medical education.
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