Can complex surgical interventions be standardized? Reaching international consensus on posterior sagittal anorectoplasty using a modified-Delphi method

J Pediatr Surg. 2021 Aug;56(8):1322-1327. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2021.01.003. Epub 2021 Jan 8.


Background/purpose: In an effort to standardize educational experience, address future physician shortages, and improve quality of care to patients, many surgical specialties are discussing how to maximize exposure to index cases. One solution being explored is telementoring, which requires a well-developed educational curriculum with intraoperative objectives. The American College of Surgery Telementoring Task Force selected anorectal malformation and posterior sagittal anorectoplasty (PSARP) for the repair of imperforate anus as the initial educational focus for this pilot. The purpose of this study was to obtain international consensus on intraoperative learning objectives for a complex surgical procedure.

Methods: A multidisciplinary team of medical educators and pediatric surgery experts created an outline of essential curricular content and intraoperative learning objectives for PSARP in three clinical scenarios. Twelve international subject matter experts were identified meeting strict inclusion criteria. Intraoperative checklists were revised using the modified-Delphi process.

Results: After five rounds of modifications to the intraoperative checklists, international consensus was achieved for three different clinical scenarios requiring a PSARP: perineal or vestibular fistula, low prostatic fistula, and bladder neck fistula.

Conclusions: A modified-Delphi approach was successful in generating guidelines for surgical techniques that can be used to standardize intraoperative teaching and expectations for trainees.

Type of study: Diagnostic study LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level V (expert opinion).

Keywords: Checklist; Delphi; PSARP; Posterior sagittal anorectoplasty; Simulation; Telementoring.

MeSH terms

  • Anal Canal / surgery
  • Anorectal Malformations* / surgery
  • Child
  • Consensus
  • Humans
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures*
  • Rectal Fistula* / surgery
  • Rectum / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome