Background The present study aimed to describe and compare the operative experience of cardiothoracic surgical residents for basic and advanced cardiac surgical procedures. Methods Data were obtained from the 2015 Thoracic Surgery Directors Association Survey administered to all thoracic surgical residents taking the yearly In-Service Training Examination (n = 356). Residents were asked whether they routinely served as the operative surgeon on various cardiac operations and operative tasks. Results were stratified by postgraduate year (PGY), residency type, and primary career interest. Results The survey response rate was 100%. Considering all training pathways, only 2 of 13 cardiac operations surveyed were routinely performed by graduating chief residents as the operative surgeon: coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG; 92%) and aortic valve replacement (AVR; 88%). Off-pump CABG, minimally invasive mitral valve operation, and transcatheter aortic interventions were infrequently (<30% of the time) performed by graduating residents as the operative surgeon. These results were similar when residents with a career interest in general thoracic surgery were excluded from the analysis. For the operative progression of integrated 6-year (I-6) residents, most began to routinely cannulate for cardiopulmonary bypass, perform proximal coronary anastomoses, and harvest the mammary artery during PGY3. The majority (>50%) of I-6 residents performed CABG as the operative surgeon by PGY4. Conclusions There is pronounced heterogeneity in the cardiac operative experience of cardiothoracic surgical residents in the United States, with only CABG and AVR routinely performed by graduating residents as the operative surgeon. This heterogeneity may lead to insufficient training in certain procedures for many graduates.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine