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Resident-Led Heart Surgeries Not Linked to Worse Outcomes

Residents, staff surgeons have similar short-term and long-term outcomes after surgery

TUESDAY, Sept. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Cardiac surgeries performed by senior-level residents resulted in similar long-term event-free survival as procedures performed by staff surgeons, according to research published Sept. 30 in a supplement issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Serban C. Stoica, M.D., of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and colleagues analyzed data from 6,931 cases of coronary artery bypass graft surgery, aortic valve replacement, or a combination of the two procedures performed at a single facility between 1998 and 2005.

Surgeries in which the resident was the primary operator weren't associated with in-hospital mortality or an in-hospital composite outcome including stroke, bleeding, and sternal infection, the investigators found. Event-free survival in the cases performed by residents versus staff surgeons was also similar at one, three and five years. Resident cases were not associated with long-term death or cardiovascular hospitalization, the researchers report.

"Previously published reports have shown that allowing residents to perform cardiac surgical operations under staff supervision does not adversely affect in-hospital patient outcomes. Our data support these findings using a much larger series of patients. Furthermore, we have found that these results are maintained over a median follow-up of three years with a maximum follow-up of eight years. These results suggest that resident training does not adversely affect morbidity and mortality in the intermediate term after cardiac surgery," the authors conclude.

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