A Competency Assessment Tool for Unilateral Cleft Lip Repair

Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2020 Jul 14;8(7):e2954. doi: 10.1097/GOX.0000000000002954. eCollection 2020 Jul.


Objective evaluation of operative performance is increasingly important in surgical training. Evaluation tools include global rating scales of performance and procedure-specific skills checklists. For unilateral cleft lip repair, the numerous techniques make universal evaluation challenging. Thus, we sought to create a unilateral cleft lip evaluation tool agnostic to specific repair technique.

Methods: Four surgeons with expertise in 3 common cleft lip repair techniques participated in a 3-round Delphi process to generate consensus evaluation points spanning all techniques. Items were categorized as marking the repair, performing the repair, and final result. Two blinded raters then scored videos of simulated cleft lip repairs using both the 21-item novel checklist and the modified Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills. Kappa and T values were calculated for both scales to determine level of agreement.

Results: Ten videos of repairs performed by novice residents through experienced craniofacial fellows were scored. Moderate (κ = 0.41-0.60) to substantial (κ = 0.61-0.80) interrater reliability was seen for the majority of questions in both the novel tool and the Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills. A single question in the novel tool had almost perfect agreement (κ = 0.81-1.00), 8 had moderate agreement, and 6 had substantial agreement. Poorly scoring questions were discarded from the final 18-item tool.

Conclusions: Despite variations in unilateral cleft lip repair technique, common themes exist that can be used to assess performance and outcome. A universal evaluation tool has potential implications for trainee assessment, surgeon credentialing, and screening for surgical missions.