How to Avoid a Learning Curve in Stapedotomy: A Standardized Surgical Technique

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Abstract

Objective:

To evaluate, whether a learning curve for beginners in stapedotomy can be avoided by using a prosthesis with thermal memory-shape attachment in combination with a standardized laser-assisted surgical technique.

Study Design:

Retrospective case review.

Setting:

Tertiary referral center.

Patients:

Fifty-eight ears were operated by three experienced surgeons and compared with a group of 12 cases operated by a beginner in stapedotomy.

Intervention:

Stapedotomy.

Main Outcome Measures:

Difference of pure-tone audiometry thresholds measured before and after surgery.

Results:

The average postoperative gain for air conduction in the frequencies below 2 kHz was 20 to 25 dB and decreased for the higher frequencies. Using the Mann-Whitney-U test for comparing mean gain between experienced and inexperienced surgeons showed no significant difference (p = 0.281 at 4 kHz and p > 0.7 for the other frequencies). A Spearman rank correlation of the postoperative gain for air- and bone-conduction thresholds was obtained at each test frequency for the first 12 patients consecutively treated with a thermal memory-shape attachment prosthesis by two experienced and one inexperienced surgeon. This analysis does not support the hypothesis of a “learning effect” that should be associated with an improved outcome for successively treated patients.

Conclusion:

It is possible to avoid a learning curve in stapes surgery by applying a thermal memory-shape prosthesis in a standardized laser-assisted surgical procedure.

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