Comparison of Long-term Surgical Outcomes and Microsurgical Skills between Independent and Integrated Plastic Surgery Trainees

Abbas M. Hassan, Francesco M. Egro, Michael M. Talanker, Nikhil R. Shah, Jun Liu, Renata S. Maricevich, Edward I. Chang, Matthew M. Hanasono, Jesse C. Selber, Charles E. Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: We compared the surgical skills and outcomes of microsurgical fellows who completed an independent versus integrated plastic surgery residency. Methods: We reviewed outcomes of abdominal wall reconstructions performed autonomously by microsurgical fellows at our institution from March 2005 to June 2019; outcome measures included hernia recurrence, surgical site occurrence, surgical site infection, length of hospital stay, unplanned return to the operating room, and 30-day readmission. The microsurgical skills were prospectively evaluated using the validated Structured Assessment of Microsurgical Skills at the start and end of the fellowship, in an animal laboratory model and clinical microsurgical cases. Multivariable hierarchical models were constructed to evaluate study outcomes. Results: We identified 44 fellows and 118 consecutive patients (52% women) who met our inclusion criteria. Independent fellows performed 55% (n = 65) of cases, and 45% were performed by integrated fellows. We found no significant difference in hernia recurrence, surgical site occurrences, surgical site infections, 30-day readmission, unplanned return to the operating room, or length of stay between the two groups in adjusted models. Although laboratory scores were similar between the groups, integrated fellows demonstrated higher initial clinical scores (42.0 ± 4.9 versus 37.7 ± 5.0, P = 0.04); however, the final clinical scores were similar (50.8 ± 6.0 versus 48.9 ± 5.2, P = 0.45). Conclusions: Independent and integrated fellows demonstrated similar long-term patient outcomes. Although integrated fellows had better initial microsurgical skills, evaluation at the conclusion of fellowship revealed similar performance, indicating that fellowship training allows for further development of competent surgeons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E4709
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery - Global Open
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 8 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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