Background: There are few surgeons in the United States, within private practice and academic centers, currently performing transvaginal cholecystectomies (TVC). The lack of exposure to TVC during residency or fellowship training, coupled with a poorly defined learning curve, further limits interested surgeons who want to apply this technique to their practice. This study describes the learning curve encountered during the introduction of TVC to our academic facility. Methods: This study is an analysis of consecutive TVCs performed between August 14, 2009 and August 3, 2012 at an academic center. The TVC patients were divided into sequential quartiles (n = 15/16). The learning curve outcome was measured as the operative time of TVC patients and compared to the operative time of female laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) patients performed during the same time period. Results: Sixty-one patients underwent a TVC with a mean age of 38 ± 12 years and mean BMI was 29 ± 6 kg/m2. Sixty-seven female patients who underwent a LC with average age 41 ± 15 years and average BMI 33 ± 12 kg/m2. The average operative time of LC patients and TVC patients was 48 ± 20 and 60 ± 17 min, respectively. Significant improvement in TVC operative times was seen between the first (n = 15 TVCs) and second quartiles (p = 0.04) and stayed relatively constant for third quartile, during which there was no statistically significant difference between the mean LC operative time for the second and third TVC quartiles Conclusions: The learning curve of a fellowship-trained surgeon introducing TVC to their surgical repertoire, as measured by improved operative times, can be achieved with approximately 15 cases.
- Learning curve
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