Determinants of cataract surgical opportunities and complication rates in UK higher specialist training

Eye (Lond). 2008 Nov;22(11):1425-9. doi: 10.1038/eye.2008.157. Epub 2008 Sep 12.


Purpose: The volume of cataract surgery performed by trainee ophthalmologists in the UK, and the complication rates experienced by those trainees is unknown. As a result, no appropriate audit benchmark exists for trainees or their trainers. This study describes the surgical opportunities and rates of posterior capsule rupture (PCR) experienced by higher specialist trainees in one UK training region and explores influencing factors.

Methods: Number of cataract operations and episodes of PCR in each calendar month were recorded from surgical logbooks for all Specialist Registrars (SpRs) who had completed at least 6 months of training by January 2007. Dates and details of the posts in which the surgery was performed were also recorded.

Results: Data from 475 completed months were collected from 19 trainees including 4322 cataract operations and 99 episodes of PCR. Trainees performed a mean 9.1 operations per month. This varied significantly between different subspeciality posts; the fewest cataracts were on paediatric and oculo-plastic firms. District General Hospitals offered more surgery than Teaching Hospitals; mean 10.9 vs 8.5 cataracts per month (P=0.005). No difference in surgical opportunity was found between male and female trainees. An overall PCR rate of 2.3% (95% CI 2.25-2.33%) was found, which decreased significantly with increasing experience (P<0.01).

Conclusion: SpRs in Yorkshire expect to complete around 500 cataract operations in their 4.5 years of training. A PCR rate of 2.3% was found for trainees with a mean of 25 months higher specialist training which compares favourably with published series of trainees from other countries.

MeSH terms

  • Benchmarking*
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Lens Capsule, Crystalline / injuries*
  • Male
  • Ophthalmology / education*
  • Phacoemulsification / adverse effects
  • Phacoemulsification / education*
  • Phacoemulsification / standards
  • Risk Assessment
  • Rupture / prevention & control
  • United Kingdom