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Impact of Delay on Telesurgical Performance: Study on the Robotic Simulator dV-Trainer

originally published in the Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg.

Perez M, Xu S, Chauhan S, Tanaka A, Simpson K, Abdul-Muhsin H, Smith R

PURPOSE:

To determine the impact of communication latency on telesurgical performance using the robotic simulator dV-Trainer®.

METHODS:

Surgeons were enrolled during three robotic congresses. They were randomly assigned to a delay group (ranging from 100 to 1000 ms). Each group performed three times a set of four exercises on the simulator: the first attempt without delay (Base) and the last two attempts with delay (Warm-up and Test). The impact of different levels of latency was evaluated.

RESULTS:

Thirty-seven surgeons were involved. The different latency groups achieved similar baseline performance with a mean task completion time of 207.2 s (p > 0.05). In the Test stage, the task duration increased gradually from 156.4 to 310.7 s as latency increased from 100 to 500 ms. In separate groups, the task duration deteriorated from Base for latency stages at delays ≥300 ms, and the errors increased at 500 ms and above (p < 0.05). The subjects' performance tended to improve from the Warm-up to the Test period. Few subjects completed the tasks with a delay higher than 700 ms.

CONCLUSION:

Gradually increasing latency has a growing impact on performances. Measurable deterioration of performance begins at 300 ms. Delays higher than 700 ms are difficult to manage especially in more complex tasks. Surgeons showed the potential to adapt to delay and may be trained to improve their telesurgical performance at lower-latency levels.

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