Purpose: To determine the effect of increasing subspecialisation on the results of retinal detachment surgery in one city.
Methods: Three audit cycles over a 10-year period when major subspecialisation and organisational changes were occurring. Retrospective case note reviews of all primary surgery for rhegmatogenous retinal detachments in each of the audit periods. Statistical analyses used contingency table/chi-square methods for comparing all three audits and Fisher's exact test/mean odds ratio with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the Audit 1 vs Audit 3 comparison.
Results: A marked improvement in success rates occurred: primary reattachment rose from 67% in Audit 1 to 87% in Audit 3 (P = 0.0004), and final success from 84% to 97% (P = 0.0003). There was a dramatic change in operative techniques over the same period: the percentage of vitrectomies increased from 1.5% in Audit 1 to 48% in Audit 3, while that of 'open' conventional procedures decreased from 78% to 32%. However, the improvement in anatomical success was not mirrored by an increase in the percentage of patients with 6/12 or better visual acuity postoperatively (55% in Audit 1, 49% in Audit 3; P = 0.34, mean odds ratio = 0.78; 95% CI 0.48-1.2). The percentage of patients with 6/18-6/36 post op visual acuity did increase in Audit 3 (18% in Audit 1; 29% in Audit 3; P = 0.03, mean odds ratio = 1.9; CI 1.1-3.3), and the percentage with 6/60 or worse decreased (27% in Audit 1, 20% in Audit 3; P = 0.26, mean odds ratio = 0.71; CI 0.40-1.2).
Conclusions: With increased subspecialisation there has been an increase in anatomical success, but the goal of 100% reattachment is still not being attained. There remains scope for further improvement in anatomical and functional outcomes.