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Ann Surg. 2019 Jun 7. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000003385. [Epub ahead of print]

Evaluating the Effect of Surgical Skill on Outcomes for Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy: A Video-based Study.

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Department of Surgery, Michigan Medicine, Ann Arbor, MI.
Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
Department of Surgery, Henry Ford Health System, Ann Arbor, MI.



Prior studies have demonstrated a correlation between surgical skill and complication rates after laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. However, the impact of surgical skill on a similar but less technically challenging procedure such as sleeve gastrectomy (SG) is unknown.


Practicing bariatric surgeons (n = 25) participating in a statewide quality improvement collaborative submitted an unedited deidentified video of a representative laparoscopic SG. Videos were obtained between 2015 and 2016 and were rated by bariatric surgeons in a blinded fashion using a validated instrument that assesses surgical skill. Overall scores were based on a 5-point Likert scale with 5 representing a "master surgeon" and 1 representing a "surgeon-in-training." Risk-adjusted 30-day complication rates, 1-year weight loss among cases performed during the study period, and operative technique were compared between surgeons rated in the top and bottom quartiles according to skill.


Surgeon ratings for skill varied between 2.73 and 4.60. Ratings for skill did not correlate with overall 30-day risk-adjusted complication rates (Pearson correlation coefficient, 0.213, P = 0.303). However, surgeons with higher skill ratings had lower rates of specific surgical complications, including postoperative obstruction (0.13% vs 0.3%, P = 0.017), hemorrhage (0.85% vs 1.27%, P = 0.005), and reoperation (0.24% vs 0.92%, P < 0.0001). Surgeons ranked in the top quartile for skill had faster operating times for SG (59.0 vs 82.1 min, P < 0.0001) and higher annual case volumes for both SG and any bariatric procedure (224.3 cases/yr vs 73.4 cases/yr, P = 0.009 and 244.9 cases/yr and 93.9 cases/yr, P = 0.009) when compared with surgeons in the bottom quartile. When comparing operative technique, top rated surgeons were noted to have a higher likelihood of using buttressing (83.3% vs 0%, P = 0.0041) and intraoperative endoscopy (83.3% vs 0%, P = 0.0041).


Peer ratings for surgical skill varied for laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy but did not have a significant impact on overall complication rates. Top rated surgeons had lower rates of obstruction, hemorrhage, and reoperation; however, severe morbidity remained extremely low among all surgeons.

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