Surg Endosc. 2022 Jun 10. doi: 10.1007/s00464-022-09349-w. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Resident involvement in the operating room is a vital component of their medical education. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) represents the paradigmatic minimally invasive training procedure, both due to its prevalence and its different forms of complexity. We aim to evaluate whether the supervised participation of residents as operative surgeons in LC of different degrees of complexity affects postoperative outcomes in a university hospital.
METHODS: This is a retrospective, single-center study that included all consecutive adult (> 18 years old) patients operated for a LC between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2017. Each surgical procedure was recorded according to the level of complexity that we established in three types of categorization (level 1: elective surgery; level 2: cholecystitis; level 3: biliary instrumentation). Patients were clinically monitored at an outpatient clinic 7 and 30-day postoperative. Postoperative outcomes of patients operated by supervised residents (SR) and trained surgeons (TS) were compared. Postoperative complications were graded according to the Clavien-Dindo classification of surgical complications.
RESULTS: A total of 2331 patients underwent LC during the study period, of whom 1573 patients (67.5%) were operated by SR and 758 patients (32.5%) by TS. There were no significant differences among age, sex, and BMI between patients operated in both groups, with the exception of ASA (P = 0.0001). Intraoperative cholangiography was performed in 100% of the patients, without bile duct injuries. There were no deaths in the 30 postoperative days. The overall complication rate was 5.70% (133 patients), with no significant differences when comparing LC performed by SR and TS (5.09 vs. 6.99%; P = 0.063). The severity rates of complications were similar in both groups (P = 0.379). Patient readmission showed a statistical difference comparing SR vs TS (0.76% vs. 2.2%; P = 0.010). The postoperative complications rate according to the complexity level of LC was not significant in level 1 and 2 for both groups. However in complexity level 3 the TS group experienced a greater rate of complications compared to the SR group (18.12% vs. 9.38%; P = 0.058). In the multivariate analysis, the participation of the residents as operating surgeons was not independently associated with an increased risk of complications (OR 1.22, 95% CI 0.84-1.77; P = 0.275), neither other risk factors like age ≥ 65 years, BMI, complexity level 2-3, or ASA ≥ 3-4. The association of another surgical procedure with the LC was an independent factor of morbidity (OR 3.85, 95% CI 2.54-5.85; P = 0.000).
CONCLUSION: Resident involvement in LC with different degrees of complexity did not affect postoperative outcomes. The participation of a resident as operating surgeon is not an independent risk factor and may be considered ethical, safe, and reliable whenever implemented in the background of a residency-training program with continuous supervision and national accreditation. The sum of other procedures not related to a LC should be taken as a risk factor of morbidity.