Introduction: The Vascular Surgery Board (VSB) of the American Board of Surgery sought to answer the following questions: what is the scope of contemporary vascular surgery practice? Do current vascular surgery residents obtain training that is appropriate for their future career expectations and for successful Board certification? How effectively do practicing vascular surgeons incorporate emerging technologies and procedures into practice?
Methods: We analyzed the operative logs submitted to the VSB by recent vascular surgery residents applying for the Vascular Surgery Qualifying Examination (QE; 2006-2009) or by practicing vascular surgeons applying for the Vascular Surgery Recertification Examination (RE; 1995-2009). The relationship between reported operative experience and performance of the QE and RE was examined.
Results: There has been a threefold increase in the mean number of primary cases reported by both RE and QE applicants over the past 15 years and the increase in case volume has been driven largely by an increase in the number of endovascular procedures. Endovascular procedures have been broadly incorporated into the practice of most vascular surgeons applying for recertification. The number of major open surgical cases reported by recent QE applicants has remained unchanged over the period of observation. For QE applicants, the number of endovascular aneurysm repairs (EVARs) has reached a plateau at approximately 50 cases, whereas the mean number of open infrarenal aneurysm repairs has decreased for both QE and RE applicants, reflecting national trends favoring EVAR. There was a significant association between case volume and performance on the QE but not on the RE.
Conclusion: Over the past 15 years, there has been a significant increase in the total number of operative cases reported to the VSB by both QE and RE applicants. Contrary to popular belief, the volume of major open vascular surgery reported by recent vascular surgery residents has remained relatively stable since 1994. Over the same time period, endovascular procedures have been rapidly incorporated into clinical practice by the majority of vascular surgeons applying for recertification by the VSB. Current vascular surgery residents receive a rich operative experience in both open and endovascular procedures that is reflective of contemporary practice.
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