Impact of Surgical Experience on Operative Mortality After Reoperative Cardiac Surgery

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Abstract

Background: Learning curves and skill attrition with aging have been reported to impair outcomes in select surgical subspecialties, but their role in complex cardiac surgery remains unknown. Methods: From 1986 to 2019, 2314 patients underwent reoperative cardiac surgery: coronary artery bypass grafting (n = 543), valve (n = 1527), or combined coronary artery bypass grafting and valve (n = 244). Thirty-four different surgeons in practice between 1 and 39 years were included. Standardized mortality ratio (observed-to-expected) was determined for all surgeons in each post-training year of experience. Results: Risk-adjusted cumulative sum change-point analysis was used to define five distinct career phases: 0 to 4 years, 5 to 8 years, 9 to 17 years, 18 to 28 years, and 29 to 39 years. With 5 to 8 years and 18 to 28 years of experience, standardized mortality ratio was near unity (0.95 and 1.05, respectively) and lowest with 9 to 17 years of experience (0.78, P = .03). In the youngest experience group (0 to 4 years), observed and expected mortality were both highest, and standardized mortality ratio was elevated at 1.29, which approached statistical significance (P = .059). In the oldest experience group (29 to 39 years), expected mortality was low compared with most other groups but observed mortality increased, yielding a significantly elevated standardized mortality ratio at 1.53 (P = .032). Conclusions: Standardized mortality ratios with reoperative cardiac surgery were highest early and late in a surgeon's career and lowest in mid career. As surgeons gain experience, outcomes improve through the first two career decades, then stabilize in the third decade before declining in the fourth decade.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1909-1916
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Volume110
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

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