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Anesth Analg. 1998 Mar;86(3):635-9.

Learning manual skills in anesthesiology: Is there a recommended number of cases for anesthetic procedures?

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  • 1Institute of Anesthesiology, Kantonsspital, Lucerne, Switzerland. ChKonrad@Compuserve.com


The learning process is a multidimensional function with a wide intra- and interindividual scattering. To determine the learning process in anesthesia, we evaluated 11 first-year residents according to their rate of success or failure when applying manual anesthesiological skills, such as performance of spinal, epidural, or brachial plexus anesthesia and tracheal intubation or insertion of an arterial line. Epidural anesthesia was the most difficult procedure (P < 0.05). Significant differences were found between epidural anesthesia and tracheal intubation (P < 0.05), insertion of an arterial line (P < 0.05), and brachial plexus block (P < 0.05), as well as between spinal anesthesia and orotracheal intubation (P < 0.05). Learning curves are a valid tool for monitoring institutional and individual success.


To investigate the learning process in anesthesia, typical anesthetic procedures were performed by inexperienced residents during their first year. Learning curves were generated for each procedure performed. Epidural anesthesia was the most difficult procedure to perform (P < 0.05).

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