Eye tracking is the process of measuring an individual’s eye movements to register their attentional behavior by using a device called an eye-tracker. Studies conducted using eye-tracking techniques have demonstrated a number of differences in eye movement parameters and patterns between experts and novices. The aim of this preliminary study was to evaluate if there are any differences in eye-tracking metrics between novice and expert anesthesiologists during the performance of an epidural block using an epidural simulator.
Seven experts and seven novices who gave their consent to this preliminary study were asked to perform an epidural technique using an epidural simulator while wearing a pair of Tobii Pro glasses. Number of fixations, fixation duration, heat maps and scan-paths were examined by Tobii Pro Lab Software. Duration of the procedure was also recorded.
The observation of the attentional heat map and gaze plot showed different gaze dispersion between experts and novices. The mean total duration of fixations during needle insertion and advancement and catheter introduction was lower in experts than trainees (respectively, 0.18 vs 3.56 sec; P<0.05 and 0.73 vs 2.48 sec; P<0.05). The mean fixation count was greater in experts vs trainees (5 vs 2; P<0.05). The mean duration of the epidural procedure was 104.16 (41) (trainees) vs 65.3 (32.6) seconds (experts) (P<0.05). Expert anesthesiologists spent more time fixating a more specific target location (eg, the point of the epidural needle rather than the syringe’s barrel) whilst novices split their attention between tracking their tools and the target location.