The resident surgeon phacoemulsification learning curve

Arch Ophthalmol. 2007 Sep;125(9):1215-9. doi: 10.1001/archopht.125.9.1215.


Objectives: To analyze outcomes of resident-performed phacoemulsifications and to assess the resident phacoemulsification learning curve.

Methods: Retrospective chart review of resident-performed phacoemulsification cases at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Decatur, Georgia, from July 1, 1999, through June 30, 2002. Outcomes measured included postoperative uncorrected visual acuity (UCVA), best spectacle-corrected visual acuity (BSCVA), intraoperative complications, and adjusted phacoemulsification times (total phacoemulsification time multiplied by phacoemulsification power used).

Results: We analyzed 680 cases. Postoperative mean UCVA was 20/39, and mean BSCVA was 20/25 (> or = 20/20 in 44.0% of cases and > or = 20/40 in 97.8%). There were no differences in visual acuity outcomes over the course of residency training. Intraoperative complications occurred in 34 cases (5.0%), with a significant reduction in vitreous loss rates after the first 80 resident cases (5.1% vs 1.9%; P = .03). Mean adjusted phacoemulsification time was 0.68 minutes, with a significant reduction in adjusted phacoemulsification time after the first 80 cases (0.87 vs 0.52 minutes; P < .001).

Conclusions: Quality visual outcomes after phacoemulsification can be attained throughout residency training; however, surgical competency, when measured by complication rates and phacoemulsification efficiency, continues to improve significantly with increasing surgical experience well beyond the first 80 resident phacoemulsification cases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate*
  • Female
  • Georgia
  • Hospitals, Veterans
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Intraoperative Complications
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmology / education*
  • Phacoemulsification / education*
  • Phacoemulsification / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Acuity