PHOENIX – Over the past 11 years, fewer general surgery residents have participated in important types of general thoracic surgery cases, a retrospective review found.
“These findings may be the result of the work-hours reduction causing less exposure to general thoracic surgery and/or a reluctance to allow general surgery residents to perform the increasingly common minimally invasive procedures,” researchers led by Dr. William S. Ragalie wrote in an abstract presented during a poster session at the annual meeting of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.
Dr. Ragalie of the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and his associates retrospectively reviewed the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education resident case log database for the most recent 11 years in an effort to quantify and trend the operative experience among general surgery residents. They categorized cases by year, level of resident participation, and level of complexity. Major general thoracic cases were defined as esophagectomy, pneumonectomy, and lobectomy, while cases that did not involve hilar dissection were classified as “other thoracic.”
The researchers found that the 90th percentile of first assist thoracic surgery cases decreased significantly over the study period by an average of 1.46 cases per year (P = .0012). Decreased case volumes in pneumonectomy were also noted at the junior level (–0.012 cases per year; P less than .0001) and at the chief resident level (–0.31 cases per year; P less than .001). This was also true of open lobectomy cases (–0.14 cases per year at the junior level; P less than .001, and –3.41 cases per year at the chief resident level; P less than .0001).
As for video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) lobectomy, the researchers observed an increase in average case volume at the junior surgeon level of .13 cases per year, but a decrease at the chief resident level of one case per year (P less than .001 for both).
Dr. Ragalie and his associates also observed a decrease in the following procedures performed by chief residents: open exploratory thoracoscopy (–3.17 cases per year; P less than .001), VATS exploratory thoracoscopy (–2.95 cases per year; P less than .0001), open wedge resection (–1.52 cases per year; P less than .0227), VATS wedge resection (–2.72 cases per year; P less than .0002), “other thoracic” (–6.3 cases per year; P = .0001), and thoracoscopic pleurodesis (–2.09 cases per year; P less than .0001).
At the same time, a significant trend of decreased case volume at the junior surgeon level was noted for open exploratory thoracoscopy (–0.10 cases per year; P less than .0001) and open wedge resection (–0.22 cases per year; P = . 0115).
The researchers reported having no financial disclosures.