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Title: Motor learning induced neuroplasticity in minimally invasive surgery
Author: Shetty, Kunal
ISNI:       0000 0004 6496 3420
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2017
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Technical skills in surgery have become more complex and challenging to acquire since the introduction of technological aids, particularly in the arena of Minimally Invasive Surgery. Additional challenges posed by reforms to surgical careers and increased public scrutiny, have propelled identification of methods to assess and acquire MIS technical skills. Although validated objective assessments have been developed to assess motor skills requisite for MIS, they poorly understand the development of expertise. Motor skills learning, is indirectly observable, an internal process leading to relative permanent changes in the central nervous system. Advances in functional neuroimaging permit direct interrogation of evolving patterns of brain function associated with motor learning due to the property of neuroplasticity and has been used on surgeons to identify the neural correlates for technical skills acquisition and the impact of new technology. However significant gaps exist in understanding neuroplasticity underlying learning complex bimanual MIS skills. In this thesis the available evidence on applying functional neuroimaging towards assessment and enhancing operative performance in the field of surgery has been synthesized. The purpose of this thesis was to evaluate frontal lobe neuroplasticity associated with learning a complex bimanual MIS skill using functional near-infrared spectroscopy an indirect neuroimaging technique. Laparoscopic suturing and knot-tying a technically challenging bimanual skill is selected to demonstrate learning related reorganisation of cortical behaviour within the frontal lobe by shifts in activation from the prefrontal cortex (PFC) subserving attention to primary and secondary motor centres (premotor cortex, supplementary motor area and primary motor cortex) in which motor sequences are encoded and executed. In the cross-sectional study, participants of varying expertise demonstrate frontal lobe neuroplasticity commensurate with motor learning. The longitudinal study involves tracking evolution in cortical behaviour of novices in response to receipt of eight hours distributed training over a fortnight. Despite novices achieving expert like performance and stabilisation on the technical task, this study demonstrates that novices displayed persistent PFC activity. This study establishes for complex bimanual tasks, that improvements in technical performance do not accompany a reduced reliance in attention to support performance. Finally, least-squares support vector machine is used to classify expertise based on frontal lobe functional connectivity. Findings of this thesis demonstrate the value of interrogating cortical behaviour towards assessing MIS skills development and credentialing.
Supervisor: Darzi, Ara ; Yang, Guang-Zhong ; Leff, Daniel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral