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Ann Surg. 2012 Apr;255(4):715-9. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e318248bdb5.

Appendectomy by residents is safe and not associated with a higher incidence of complications: a retrospective cohort study.

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Department of Surgery, St. Elisabeth Hospital, Tilburg, The Netherlands.



The purpose of this retrospective cohort study was to investigate whether current practice where residents perform appendectomies affects quality of care. Therefore, we investigated whether there was a difference in incidence of complications and mortality in appendectomies performed by surgeons (S), supervised residents (SR), or unsupervised residents (UR).


Appendicitis is among the most frequent conditions requiring urgent surgery. Admittance and surgery are often managed by residents. Recent studies have shown that laparoscopic appendectomy can be safely performed by residents. It is not known whether these results are applicable on appendectomies in general.


All patients undergoing appendectomy in our hospital between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2009, were included in the analysis. Patients undergoing appendectomy by surgeons, supervised residents, and unsupervised residents were compared. Primary endpoints were complications and mortality.


During the study period, 1538 patients were operated. The risk of complications (S: 20% vs SR: 17% vs UR: 16%; P = 0.209, S vs SR; P = 0.149, S vs UR; and P = 0.872, SR vs UR) and mortality (S: 0.3% vs SR: 0.2% vs UR: 0.4%, P = 1.000 for all comparisons) were similar in all groups. In the multivariate model, the odds ratio for complications in the group operated by supervised residents was 0.84 (95% CI: 0.58-1.22, P = 0.357) versus 0.81 (95% CI: 0.55-1.18, P = 0.265) in the unsupervised residents' group.


Current practice where residents perform appendectomies either unsupervised or supervised by an experienced surgeon should not be discouraged. We found that it is safe and does not lead to more complications or negatively affect quality of care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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