The Effect of Formal Robotic Residency Training on the Adoption of Minimally Invasive Surgery by Young Colorectal Surgeons

J Surg Educ. 2018 May-Jun;75(3):767-778. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2017.09.006. Epub 2017 Oct 18.


Objective: The minimally invasive approach to colorectal surgery is still underused. Only 50% to 60% of colectomies and 10% to 20% of rectal resections for cancer are performed laparoscopically. The increasing adoption of the robotic platform for colorectal surgery warrants re-evaluation of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) training techniques. Although considering lessons learned from past laparoscopic training, a standardized national robotic training program for colon and rectal surgery residents was developed and implemented in 2011. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of this program on the usage of MIS in practice following residency training.

Design: An internet-based 18 question survey was sent to all colon and rectal surgeons who graduated from ACGME-approved colon and rectal surgery residencies from 2013 to 2016. The survey questions were designed to determine MIS practice patterns for young colon and rectal surgeons after residency training for those who participated in the standardized national robotics training course when compared to those who did not participate. Grouped bar charts with error bars are presented along with summary statistics to offer a descriptive overview of training experiences by cohort.

Setting/participants: This study is a survey of colon and rectal surgeons who completed colon and rectal surgery residencies to include all 52 programs across the United States.

Results: The overall survey response rate was 37.2% (109 of 293). Most (79.8%) of the colon and rectal surgery resident respondents participated in the formal robotic training course. The average respondent reported that 84% of colectomy cases and 74.8% of rectal resections done after residency training by all respondents were by the MIS approach. The laparoscopic approach was most prevalent for colectomies for both course participants (laparoscopic 55.1%, hand assisted lap 14.5%, and robotic 15.7%) and nonparticipants (laparoscopic 53.8%, hand assisted lap 12.3%, and robotic 15.9%). For rectal resections, the robotic approach was the preferred option for course participants (laparoscopic 24.5%, hand assist lap 14.0%, and robotic 39.2%) whereas laparoscopic and open approaches were used more often by nonparticipants (laparoscopic 36.8%, hand assist lap 8.0%, robotic 26.8%, and open 28.4%). Barriers to robotic implementation included lack of robotic mentors, inadequate robotic assistance, and the preference for the laparoscopic approach.

Conclusion: The usage of MIS by young recently fellowship-trained colorectal surgeons is higher than previously reported. The proportion of rectal cases done robotically is higher compared to colon cases and with an apparent decrease in open rather than laparoscopic surgery, suggesting selective usage of robotic surgery for more challenging cases in the pelvis. Methods to more effectively increase the usage of minimally invasive approaches in colorectal surgery warrant further evaluation.

Keywords: Patient Care; Practice-Based Learning and Improvement; Systems-Based Practice; colorectal; laparoscopic; minimally invasive; residency training; robotic.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Colorectal Surgery / education*
  • Competency-Based Education / methods
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Laparoscopy / education*
  • Male
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures / education
  • Surgeons / education
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • United States