Laparoscopic colectomy: Does the learning curve extend beyond colorectal surgery fellowship?

Joshua A. Waters, Ray Chihara, Jose Moreno, Bruce W. Robb, Eric A. Wiebke, Virgilio V. George

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: As minimally invasive colon and rectal resection has become increasingly prevalent over the past decade, the role that fellowship training plays has become an important question. This analysis examines the learning curve of one fellowship-trained colorectal surgeon in his first 100 cases. Methods: This was a prospectively collected retrospective analysis of the first 100 laparoscopic colon and rectal resections performed between July 2007 and July 2008 by a colorectal (CRS) fellowship trained surgeon at a Veteran's Administration (VA) and county hospital. Included were all emergent and nonemergent laparoscopic cases. Results: Mean age was 63(range, 36 to 91). The 100 resections included 42 right, 6 left, 32 sigmoid, 13 rectal, and 7 total abdominal colectomies. Indications were 55% cancer, 20% unresectable polyp, 18% diverticular, 4% inflammatory, and 3% other. Overall mortality was 3%. Overall morbidity including wound infection was 24%. Early and late groups were similar in age, ASA score, and indication. Conversion rate was 4%. No statistical difference was seen in mortality, morbidity, EBL, LOS, margin, lymph nodes, or conversions between the first and second 50 cases (P<0.05). Right and sigmoid colectomy operative time decreased by 40.0% and 19.6%, respectively. Conclusion: Prior investigators have demonstrated a significant learning curve for laparoscopic colorectal surgery. In the first 100 cases, there is no difference in mortality or morbidity between early and late cases. Alternatively, operative times decreased with experience. Laparoscopic training during CRS fellowship surpasses the learning curve in regard to safety and outcome, whereas operative efficiency improves over the first year of practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-331
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Colectomy
  • Colon cancer
  • Laparoscopy
  • Learning curve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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