Robinson WP, Schanzer A, Cutler BS, Baril DT, Larkin AC, Eslami MH, Arous EJ, and Messina LM. A randomized comparison of a 3-week and 6-week vascular surgery simulation course on junior surgical residents' performance of an end-to-side anastomosis. J Vasc Surg.2012 Dec;56(6):1771-80.

PMID: 23182488


We assessed the effect of an open vascular simulation course on the surgical skill of junior surgical residents in performing a vascular end-to-side anastomosis and determined the course length required for effectiveness. We hypothesized that a 6-week course would significantly increase the surgical skill of junior residents in performing an end-to-side anastomosis, while a 3-week course would not.

We randomized 37 junior residents (postgraduate year 1 to 3) to a course consisting of three (short course, n = 18) or six (long course, n = 19) consecutive weekly 1-hour teaching sessions. Content focused on instrument recognition and performance of an end-to-side vascular anastomosis using a simulation model. A standardized 50-point vascular skills assessment (SVSA) measured knowledge and technical proficiency. Senior residents (postgraduate year 4 to 5) were tested at baseline. Junior residents were tested at baseline and at 1 and 16 weeks after course completion, and their scores were compared with baseline and senior resident scores. Residents and faculty completed a standardized anonymous evaluation of the course.

Baseline scores between short-course and long-course participants were not different. At baseline, junior residents had significantly lower SVSA scores than senior residents (36±7 vs 41.4±2.5; P=.002). One week after course completion, SVSA scores for short-course (43.5±2.9 vs 34.2±7.5; P=.008) and long-course (43.9±5.6 vs 38.3±5.9; P=.006) participants were significantly improved from baseline. SVSA scores decreased slightly at 16 weeks but remained above baseline in short-course (39±6.2 vs 34.2±7.5; P=.03) and long-course (40±4.5 vs 38.3±5.9; P=.08) participants. Long vs short course length did not affect improvement in SVSA scores at 1 or 16 weeks. In short-course and long-course participants, SVSA scores at 1 and 16 weeks were not significantly different from senior resident scores. Course ratings were high, and 95% of residents indicated the course "made them a better surgeon." Residents and faculty felt the educational benefit of the course merited the investment of resources.

An open vascular simulation course consisting of three weekly 1-hour sessions increased the surgical skill of junior residents in performing a vascular end-to-side anastomosis to that of senior residents on a standardized assessment. A 6-week course provided no additional benefit. This study supports the use of an open vascular simulation course to teach vascular surgical skills to junior residents. A course consisting of three 1-hour sessions is an effective and efficient component of a simulation program for junior surgical residents in a busy surgical centre.