Background: This study aimed to evaluate a program of training in laparoscopic surgery based on clinical practice in the emergency room, in which laparoscopic appendectomy is the first technique that residents perform as surgeons.
Methods: A prospective nonrandomized study was conducted involving all the laparoscopies performed in emergencies with a diagnosis of acute abdomen, appendicular in origin, during the period between June 1991 and December 1997.
Results: There were no statistically significant differences between residents and assistants in terms of conversion rates (22/242 vs 15/158), mean hospital stay for each type of surgeon (5.2 days for residents and 5.1 days for assistants), and complications (12.8% for residents and 13.7% for assistants). Operating time, was significantly longer (p < 0.05) for residents (52.2 min) than for assistants (48 min).
Conclusions: Apprenticeship in laparoscopic appendectomy can be accomplished with gradual clinical training and without the need for resort to animal experimentation laboratories.