Roger Daglius Dias, MD, PhD, MBA

Surgery Task Load Index in Cardiac Surgery: Measuring Cognitive Load Among Teams


Lauren R Kennedy-Metz, Hill L Wolfe, Roger D Dias, Steven J Yule, and Marco A Zenati. 2020. “Surgery Task Load Index in Cardiac Surgery: Measuring Cognitive Load Among Teams.” Surg Innov, 27, 6, Pp. 602-607.


Background. The most commonly used subjective assessment of perceived cognitive load, the NASA Task Load Index (TLX), has proven valuable in measuring individual load among general populations. The surgery task load index (SURG-TLX) was developed and validated to measure cognitive load specifically among individuals within a surgical team. Notably, the TLX lacks temporal sensitivity in its typical retrospective administration. Objective. This study sought to expand the utility of SURG-TLX by investigating individual measures of cognitive load over time during cardiac surgery, and the relationship between individual and team measures of cognitive load and proxies for surgical complexity. Materials & Methods. SURG-TLX was administered retrospectively in the operating room immediately following each case to approximate cognitive load before, during, and after cardiopulmonary bypass for cardiac surgery team members (surgeon, anesthesiologist, and perfusionist). Correlations were calculated to determine the relationship of individual and team measures of cognitive load over the entire procedure with bypass length and surgery length. Results. Results suggest that perceived cognitive load varies throughout the procedure such that cognitive load during bypass significantly differs compared to before or after bypass, across all 3 roles. While on bypass, results show that anesthesiologists experience significantly lower levels of perceived cognitive load than both surgeons and perfusionists. Correlational analyses reveal that perceived cognitive load of both the surgeon and the team had significant positive associations with bypass length and surgery length. Conclusion. Our findings support the utility of SURG-TLX in real cardiac cases as a measure of cognitive load over time, and on an individual and team-wide basis.

Last updated on 04/19/2022