Background: In image-guided procedures, a high level of visual spatial ability may be an advantage for surgical trainees. We assessed the visual spatial ability of surgical trainees. Methods: Two hundred and thirty-nine surgical trainees and 61 controls were tested on visual spatial ability using 3 standardised tests, the Card Rotation, Cube Comparison and Map-Planning Tests. Results: Two hundred and twenty-one, 236 and 236 surgical trainees and 61 controls completed the Card Rotation test, Cube Comparison test and Map-Planning test, respectively. Two percent of surgical trainees performed statistically significantly worse than their peers on card rotation and map-planning test, > 1% on Cube Comparison test. Surgical trainees performed statistically significantly better than controls on all tests. Conclusions: Two percent of surgical trainees performed statistically significantly worse than their peers on visual spatial ability. The implication of this finding is unclear, further research is required that can look at the learning and educational portfolios of these trainees who perform poorly on visual spatial ability, and ascertain if they are struggling to learn skills for image-guided procedures.
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