Live surgical education: a perspective from the surgeons who perform it




  • To evaluate the experience and views regarding live surgical broadcasts (LSB) among European urologists attending the European Association of Urology Robotic Urology Society (ERUS) congress in September 2012.

Materials and Methods

  • An anonymous survey was distributed via email inviting the participants of the ERUS congress with experience of LSB to share their opinions about LSB.
  • The outcomes measured included; personal experience of LSB, levels of anxiety faced and the perceived surgical quality.
  • The impact of factors, such as communication/team-working, travel fatigue and lack of specific equipment were also evaluated.


  • In all, 106 surgeons responded with 98 (92.5%) reporting personal experience of LSB; 6.5% respondents noted ‘significant anxiety’ increasing to 19.4% when performing surgery away from home (P < 0.001).
  • Surgical quality was perceived as ‘slightly worse’ and ‘significantly worse’ by 16.1% and 2.2%, which deteriorated further to 23.9% and 3.3% respectively in a ‘foreign’ environment (P = 0.005).
  • In all, 10.9% of surgeons ‘always’ brought their own surgical team compared with 37% relying on their host institution; 2.4% raised significant concerns with their team and 18.8% encountered significantly more technical difficulties.
  • Lack of specific equipment (10.3%), language difficulties (6.2%) and jet lag (7.3%) were other significant factors reported.
  • In all, 75% of surgeons perceived the audience wanted a slick demonstration; however, 52.2% and 42.4% respectively also reported the audience wished the surgeon to struggle or manage a complication during a LSB.


  • A small proportion of surgeons had significantly heightened anxiety levels and lower perceived performance during LSB, which in a ‘foreign’ environment seemed to affect a greater proportion of surgeons.
  • Various factors appear to impact surgical performance raising concerns about the appropriateness of unregulated LSB as a teaching method.
  • To mitigate these concerns, surgeons' performing live surgery feel that the operation needs to be well planned using appropriate equipment; with many considering bringing their own team or operating from home on a video link.