Study Design. This was a retrospective review of posterior spinal fusion surgical procedures in patients diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) or neuromuscular scoliosis (NMS).
Objective. The purpose was to determine if the first assistant's training experience is associated with outcomes in AIS and NMS surgical procedures.
Summary of Background Data. A previous study found that patients with AIS undergoing posterior spinal fusion with 2 attendings had similar operating times, blood loss, and complication rates compared with those with a resident or fellow first assistant. NMS cases are more complex than AIS cases, but to our knowledge, no previous studies have examined the impact of the first assistant's level of training on NMS outcomes.
Methods. This was a single-center retrospective review of 200 patients, 120 with AIS and 80 with NMS, undergoing primary posterior spinal fusion. Minimum follow-up was 2 years. For each diagnosis group, cases assisted by junior orthopedic residents were compared with those assisted by orthopedic fellows.
Results. NMS cases were more complex and had higher complication rates than AIS cases (P < 0.05). AIS and NMS cases were similarly distributed among the fellow and junior resident groups (P = 0.63). AIS cases in the fellow and junior resident groups had similar operating times, estimated blood loss (EBL), complications, lengths of stay, and reoperation rates (P > 0.05). In NMS cases, the fellow group had shorter operating times (320 ± 73 min vs. 367 ± 104 min, P = 0.035) and greater percent correction at initial and 2-year follow-up (58 ± 15% vs. 42 ± 19%, P < 0.001). EBL, complications, lengths of stay, and reoperation rates were similar between the assistant groups in NMS cases (P > 0.05).
Conclusion. NMS surgical procedures in which fellows serve as the first assistants were associated with shorter operating times and greater percent correction than surgical procedures with junior resident first assistants.
Level of Evidence: 3