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.