Can a 2-Day Course Teach Orthopaedic Surgeons Rotational Flap Procedures? An Evaluation of Data From the Nepal SMART Course Over 2 years

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Abstract

Introduction:

Traumatic lower extremity injuries requiring multidisciplinary treatment pose a challenge in low- and middle-income countries, where access to specialists may be limited. The surgical management and reconstructive training (SMART) course teaches orthopaedic surgeons muscle and fasciocutaneous flap procedures to address this scarcity. The purpose of this study is to assess the effectiveness of the SMART course in improving competency and comfort in performing common lower extremity flap procedures among participants.

Methods:

Sixty-four orthopaedic surgeons from different regions of Nepal and Bhutan participated in the Nepal SMART course in 2016 and 2017. A competency test—consisting of questions from US in-training plastic and orthopaedic surgery examinations—was administered to attendees before and after the course. Thirty-two participants from 2016 were asked to rate their comfort level in performing flap procedures both pre- and postcourse.

Results:

Overall competency test scores, as well as scores in the plastic surgery section, increased significantly after the course (P < 0.01). The precourse competency test scores were higher in 2016 compared with 2017 (P = 0.02). There was a higher increase in overall competency test scores after the course in 2016 compared with 2017 (P = 0.03). The procedure comfort levels reported by attendees increased for all flaps (P < 0.01).

Conclusions:

These results demonstrate the ability of the SMART course to improve the competency and comfort levels of orthopaedic surgeons in performing common lower extremity flap procedures. Despite the differences in years in practice and previous experience in performing flaps, the course yielded significantly better results in 2017 compared with 2016, showing that the implementation of the course has been improving.

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