Background: The use of laparoscopic surgical procedures without previous training has grown rapidly. At the same time, there have been allegations of increased complications among less experienced surgeons. Methods: Using multivariate regression analyses, we evaluated the relationship between bile duct injury rate and experience with laparoscopic cholecystectomy for surgeons in the Southern Surgeons Club. Results: Fifty-five surgeons performed 8,839 procedures. Fifteen bile duct injuries (by 13 surgeons) resulted with 90% of the injuries occurring within the first 30 cases performed by an individual surgeon. Multivariate analyses indicated that the only significant factor associated with an adverse outcome was the surgeon's experience with the procedure. A regression model predicted that a surgeon had a 1.7% chance of a bile duct injury occurring in the first case and a 0.17% chance of a bile duct injury at the 50th case. Conclusions: While surgeons appear to learn this procedure rapidly, institutions might consider requiring surgeons to move beyond the initial learning curve before awarding privileges.
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