Background: This study was performed to determine the impact of an endovascular program (EVP) on open and endovascular abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) operations in a residency training institution.
Methods: Over an 8-year period ending in September 2001, hospital records of all patients undergoing open or endovascular AAA repair were retrospectively reviewed. Data were analyzed to determine the changing patterns of case volume, type of operative repair, and complexity of open repair with regards to the training of both general surgical chief residents and vascular fellows.
Results: A total of 849 AAA operations were performed during the study period. The initiation of the EVP in 1997 resulted in a steady increase in the total annual AAA cases (P < 0.05), due in part to an increase in endovascular AAA operations despite a decrease in the annual open AAA volume. EVP had a positive impact on the overall operative experience of vascular fellows owing to the large increase in their endovascular AAA experience (annual mean pre-EVP 3 +/- 0.8 versus post-EVP 47 +/- 9.6, P < 0.01). A significant reduction occurred in the vascular fellows' open AAA experience (annual mean pre-EVP 40 +/- 12.7 versus post-EVP 19 +/- 9.4, P < 0.05). EVP did not affect the endovascular AAA experience of general surgery chief residents (annual mean pre-EVP 1 +/- 0.8 versus post-EVP 3 +/- 1.5, not significant). A significant reduction occurred in chief residents' open AAA experience (annual mean pre-EVP 39 +/- 9.7 versus post-EVP 18 +/- 7.4, P < 0.05). EVP did not affect the operative experience of complex open AAA operations in either vascular fellows or general surgery residents.
Conclusions: An endovascular program has a positive impact on the aortic aneurysm practice in an academic institution, as evidenced by the significant increase in annual endovascular AAA cases despite a decrease in open AAA operations. Although vascular fellows continued to maintain sufficient experience in both open and endovascular AAA operations, general surgery chief residents suffered a significant decrease in their open AAA experience. Further evaluation of the residency system is warranted to better optimize the training paradigm of both vascular fellowship and general surgery residency.