Robotic thyroidectomy learning curve for beginning surgeons with little or no experience of endoscopic surgery

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Abstract

Background.

This study assessed the results of robotic thyroidectomy by fellowship-trained surgeons in their initial independent practice, and whether standard fellowship training for robotic surgery shortens the learning curve.

Methods.

This prospective cohort study evaluated outcomes in 125 patients who underwent robotic thyroidectomy using gasless transaxillary single-incision technique by 2 recently graduated fellowship-trained surgeons. Learning curves were analyzed by operation time, with proficiency defined as the point at which the slope of the time curve became less steep.

Results.

Of the 125 patients, 113 underwent robotic less-than-total thyroidectomy, 9 underwent robotic total thyroidectomy and 3 underwent robotic total thyroidectomy with modified radical neck dissection. Mean total times for these 3 operations were 100.8 ± 20.6 minutes, 134.2 ± 38.7 minutes, and 284.7 ± 60.4 minutes, respectively. For both surgeons, the operation times gradually decreased, reaching a plateau after 20 robotic less-than-total thyroidectomies.

Conclusion.

The surgical learning curve for robotic thyroidectomy performed by recently graduated fellowship-trained surgeons with little or no experience in endoscopic surgery showed excellent results compared with those in a large series of more experienced surgeons. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck37: 1705–1711, 2015

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