Objective: To identify and evaluate the influence of mentoring and simulated training in laparoscopic colorectal surgery (LCS) and define the key components for learning advanced technical skills.
Background: Laparoscopic colorectal surgery is a complex procedure, often being self-taught by senior surgeons. Educational issues such as inadequate training facilities or a shortfall of training fellowships may result in a slow uptake of LCS. The effectiveness of mentored and simulated training, however, remains unclear.
Methods: We conducted a systematic search, using Ovid databases. Four study categories were identified: mentored versus nonmentored cases, training case selection, simulation, and assessment. We performed a meta-analysis and a mixed model regression on the difference of the main outcome measures (conversion rates, morbidity, and mortality) for mentored trainees and expert surgeons. We also compared conversion rates of mentored and nonmentored. Meta-analysis of risk factors for conversion was performed using published and unpublished data sets requested from various investigators. For studies on simulation, we compared scores of surveys on the perception of different training courses.
Results: Thirty-seven studies were included. Pooled weighted outcomes of mentored cases (n = 751) showed a lower conversion rate (13.3% vs 20.5%, P = 0.0332) compared with nonmentored cases (n = 695). Compared to expert case series (n = 5313), there was no difference in conversion (P = 0.2835), anastomotic leak (P = 0.8342), or mortality (P = 0.5680). A meta-analysis of training case selection data (n = 4444) revealed male sex (P < 0.0001), previous abdominal surgery (P = 0.0200), a BMI greater than 30 (P = 0.0050), an ASA of less than 2 (P < 0.0001), colorectal cancer (P < 0.0001) and intra-abdominal fistula (P < 0.0001), but not older than 64 years (P = 0.4800), to significantly increase conversion risk. Participants on cadaveric courses were highly satisfied with the teaching value yet trainees on an animal course gave less positive feedback. Structured assessment for LCS has been partially implemented.
Conclusion: This review and meta-analysis supports evidence that trainees can obtain similar clinical results like expert surgeons in laparoscopic colorectal surgery if supervised by an experienced trainer. Cadaveric models currently provide the best value for training in a simulated environment. There remains a need for further research into technical skills assessment and the educational value of simulated training.