The Computerized Synoptic Operative Report: A Novel Tool in Surgical Residency Education

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As opposed to the traditional dictated report, the use of a computer-based synoptic operative report will mandate that the surgical resident have a better understanding of all facets of the procedure.


A prospective study over a 10-month period.


A 636-bed community teaching hospital.


A total of 57 consecutive patients and 60 operative procedures for breast cancer.

Main Outcome Measures

A total of 60 consecutive breast cancer narrative operative reports, dictated by the attending surgeon, were compared with synoptic computerized operative reports filled by an operating resident. It included a total of 36 items containing data on demographics, preoperative history, diagnostic evaluation, and precise intraoperative findings. The 2 types of reports were compared for overall completeness and for the completeness of individual items.


Comparison of the narrative and synoptic reports showed that there was significant improvement in data completeness with the use of the synoptic report. The overall analysis showed that the synoptic operating report contained 94.7% of the preoperative and operative data, whereas the dictated operative report was able to capture only 66% of the data (P < .001). Eleven of 15 items in the general and preoperative sections of the dictated report and 6 of 21 items in the intraoperative section of the dictated report were underreported compared with those same items in the synoptic report (P = .004-.001).


The computerized synoptic operative report is superior to the dictated report in the documentation of important preoperative and intraoperative data. Although checklists and templates are not new in medicine, the use of a synoptic operative report as a surgical educational tool is a novel concept. Each resident who participated in our study had to develop a better understanding of the operative procedure in order to complete a more accurate synoptic report.

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