Background: Intraoperative experience is an essential component of surgical training. The impact of resident involvement in plastic surgery has not previously been studied on a large scale. Methods: The authors retrospectively reviewed the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database from 2006 to 2010 for all reconstructive plastic surgery cases. Resident involvement was tracked as an individual variable to compare outcomes. Results: A total of 10,356 cases were identified, with 43 percent noted as having resident involvement. The average total relative value units, a proxy for surgical complexity, and operative time were higher for procedures with residents present. When balanced by baseline characteristics using propensity score stratification into quintiles, no differences in graft, prosthesis, or flap failure or mortality were observed. Furthermore, there were no differences in overall complications or wound infection with resident involvement for a majority of the quintiles. Multivariable logistic regression analysis revealed that resident involvement was a significant predictor of overall morbidity, but not associated with increased odds of wound infection, graft, prosthesis or flap failure, or overall mortality. Conclusions: Residency has the dual mission of training future physicians and also providing critical support for academic medical centers. Using a large-scale, multicenter database, the authors were able to confirm that well-matched cohorts with-and without-resident presence had similar complication profiles. Moreover, even when residents were involved in comparably more complex cases with longer operative times, infection, graft and flap failure, and mortality remained similar.
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