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14.04.2017 | Ausgabe 11/2017

Surgical Endoscopy 11/2017

An appraisal of the learning curve in robotic general surgery

Zeitschrift:
Surgical Endoscopy > Ausgabe 11/2017
Autoren:
Luise I. M. Pernar, Faith C. Robertson, Ali Tavakkoli, Eric G. Sheu, David C. Brooks, Douglas S. Smink
Wichtige Hinweise
Presented at the SAGES 2016 Annual Meeting, March 16–19, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts.

Abstract

Background

Robotic-assisted surgery is used with increasing frequency in general surgery for a variety of applications. In spite of this increase in usage, the learning curve is not yet defined. This study reviews the literature on the learning curve in robotic general surgery to inform adopters of the technology.

Methods

PubMed and EMBASE searches yielded 3690 abstracts published between July 1986 and March 2016. The abstracts were evaluated based on the following inclusion criteria: written in English, reporting original work, focus on general surgery operations, and with explicit statistical methods.

Results

Twenty-six full-length articles were included in final analysis. The articles described the learning curves in colorectal (9 articles, 35%), foregut/bariatric (8, 31%), biliary (5, 19%), and solid organ (4, 15%) surgery. Eighteen of 26 (69%) articles report single-surgeon experiences. Time was used as a measure of the learning curve in all studies (100%); outcomes were examined in 10 (38%). In 12 studies (46%), the authors identified three phases of the learning curve. Numbers of cases needed to achieve plateau performance were wide-ranging but overlapping for different kinds of operations: 19–128 cases for colorectal, 8–95 for foregut/bariatric, 20–48 for biliary, and 10–80 for solid organ surgery.

Conclusion

Although robotic surgery is increasingly utilized in general surgery, the literature provides few guidelines on the learning curve for adoption. In this heterogeneous sample of reviewed articles, the number of cases needed to achieve plateau performance varies by case type and the learning curve may have multiple phases as surgeons add more complex cases to their case mix with growing experience. Time is the most common determinant for the learning curve. The literature lacks a uniform assessment of outcomes and complications, which would arguably reflect expertise in a more meaningful way than time to perform the operation alone.

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