Laparoscopic radical prostatectomy outcome data: how should surgeon’s performance be reported? A retrospective learning curve analysis of two surgeons

6 Jul 2016
Sarah Mason, Mieke Van Hemelrijck, Ashish Chandra, Christian Brown, Declan Cahill

Objective: To document the learning curve for the laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (LRP) procedure and discuss the optimal usage of prospectively documented outcome data for reporting a surgeon’s performance.

Materials and methods: Using prospectively collected data from the first series of patients to undergo LRP by two surgeons in the same institution, linear and logistic regression multivariate analyses per 25 patients were carried out to graphically represent the surgical learning curve for operative time, blood loss, complications, length of stay (LOS), and positive margins. Surgeon A carried out 275 operations between 2003–2009; Surgeon B carried out 225 between 2008–2012.

Results: Learning curves showing continuous improvement of each of the above outcomes were demonstrated for both cohorts. For surgeon A, a plateau was observed for LOS and T2 positive margins after 100 and 150 surgeries respectively. No such plateau was observed for surgeon B.

Conclusion: On documenting these learning curves and discussion of the reporting methods used, we concluded that the most informative outcome measure, with the least potential observer bias was T2 positive margins. Whether as a single measure or in combination with others, this has potential for use as an objective outcome representative of improvement in a surgeon’s skill over time.

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