Background: The aptitude to infer the shape of 3-D structures, such as internal organs from 2-D monitor displays, in image guided endoscopic and laparoscopic procedures varies. We sought both to validate a computer-generated task Pictorial Surface Orientation (PicSOr), which assesses this aptitude, and to identify norm referenced scores. Methods: 400 subjects (339 surgeons and 61 controls) completed the PicSOr test. 50 subjects completed it again one year afterwards. Results: Complete data was available on 396 of 400 subjects (99%). PicSOr demonstrated high test and re-test reliability (r = 0.807, p < 0.000). Surgeons performed better than controls' (surgeons = 0.874 V controls = 0.747, p < 0.000). Some surgeons (n = 22–5.5%) performed atypically on the test. Conclusions: PicSOr has population distribution scores that are negatively skewed. PicSOr quantitatively characterises an aptitude strongly correlated to the learning and performance of image guided medical tasks. Most can do the PicSOr task almost perfectly, but a substantial minority do so atypically, and this is probably relevant to learning and performing endoscopic tasks.
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