Laparoscopic skill assessment of practicing surgeons prior to enrollment in a surgical trial of a new laparoscopic procedure

Benjamin Zendejas, James W. Jakub*, Alicia M. Terando, Amod Sarnaik, Charlotte E. Ariyan, Mark B. Faries, Sabino Zani, Heather B. Neuman, Nabil Wasif, Jeffrey M. Farma, Bruce J. Averbook, Karl Y. Bilimoria, Douglas Tyler, Mary Sue Brady, David R. Farley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Outcomes of surgical trials hinge on surgeon selection and their underlying expertise. Assessment of expertise is paramount. We investigated whether surgeons’ performance measured by the fundamentals of laparoscopic surgery (FLS) assessment program could predict their performance in a surgical trial. Methods: As part of a prospective multi-institutional study of minimally invasive inguinal lymphadenectomy (MILND) for melanoma, surgical oncologists with no prior MILND experience underwent pre-trial FLS assessment. Surgeons completed MILND training, began enrolling patients, and submitted videos of each MILND case performed. Videos were scored with the global operative assessment of laparoscopic skills (GOALS) tool. Associations between baseline FLS scores and participant’s trial performance metrics were assessed. Results: Twelve surgeons enrolled patients; their median total baseline FLS score was 332 (range 275–380, max possible 500, passing >270). Participants enrolled 87 patients in the study (median 6 per surgeon, range 1–24), of which 72 (83%) videos were adequate for scoring. Baseline GOALS score was 17.1 (range 9.6–21.2, max possible score 30). Inter-rater reliability was excellent (ICC = 0.85). FLS scores correlated with improved GOALS scores (r = 0.57, p = 0.05) and with decreased operative time (r = −0.6, p = 0.02). No associations were found with the degree of patient recruitment (r = 0.02, p = 0.7), lymph node count (r = 0.01, p = 0.07), conversion rate (r = −0.06, p = 0.38) or major complications(r = −0.14, p = 0.6). Conclusions: FLS skill assessment of surgeons prior to their enrollment in a surgical trial is feasible. Although better FLS scores predicted improved operative performance and operative time, other trial outcome measures showed no difference. Our findings have implications for the documentation of laparoscopic expertise of surgeons in practice and may allow more appropriate selection of surgeons to participate in clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3313-3319
Number of pages7
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Assessment
  • Clinical trial
  • Groin dissection
  • Inguinal
  • Laparoscopy
  • Learning curve
  • Melanoma
  • Minimally invasive
  • Simulation
  • Videoscopic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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