Alcohol Intake Affects Surgeon Performance the Next Day

Previous evening alcohol intoxication affects surgeons time, diathermy, and error scores

TUESDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Excessive consumption of alcohol the evening before a surgery may negatively affect the surgeon's laparoscopic surgical performance the following day, according to a study published in the April issue of the Archives of Surgery.

Anthony G. Gallagher, Ph.D., from the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland, and colleagues conducted two studies to examine the effect of previous-day excessive alcohol consumption on laparoscopic surgical performance. The first study involved 16 science students (laparoscopic novices) and the second, eight laparoscopic experts. In study one, the participants were randomly allocated to either consume alcohol until intoxicated or abstain from alcohol. In study two, all laparoscopic experts consumed alcohol freely until intoxicated. The following day, subjects were assessed at different time points for measures, including time taken for surgery, economy of diathermy use, and error scores.

The investigators found that both the alcohol and non-alcohol groups showed similar performance at baseline in study one, but performance measures of the alcohol group showed deterioration after alcohol consumption. Diathermy and error scores were significantly different between the two groups, whereas the time scores were not significantly different. The time at which the performance scores were measured had a significant effect on the difference in time scores, diathermy scores, and errors. In study two, experts showed significant deteriorations in time, diathermy, and error scores after alcohol consumption.

"Given the considerable cognitive, perceptual, visuospatial, and psychomotor challenges posed by modern image-guided surgical techniques, abstinence from alcohol the night before operating may be a sensible consideration for practicing surgeons," the authors write.

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