The objective of this study was to document trends in the performance of open arterial vascular surgery procedures (OAVP) by general surgery residents (GSR).
The ACGME Review Committee for Surgery considers vascular surgery (VS) to be an “essential content area.” However, the operative experience in VS for GSRs is threatened by 1) increasing numbers of GSRs, 2) increasing numbers of VS trainees, and 3) the proliferation of endovascular surgery.
The last 16 years of ACGME national reports of case logs for completing GSRs were reviewed. Total vascular operations and OAVPs performed as “surgeon” were recorded and analyzed. The number of individuals completing ACGME programs in general and vascular surgery annually over that period were also recorded and analyzed. To better understand long-term and more recent trends, trends were analyzed for the 15-year period spanned by the 16 years of data as well as the most recent 10- and 5-year periods.
The number of individuals completing both general and vascular surgery programs increased significantly. Over 15 years, the total vascular operations performed by GSRs significantly declined as did the total OAVPs and the OAVPs in 7 of 9 categories. In just the last 5 years, significant declines occurred in 5 OAVP categories.
Operative experience in OAVPs for GSRs has significantly declined. Because fundamental VS skills are necessary for operative general surgery, VS should remain an essential content area. However, programs cannot solely depend on operative experience to teach fundamental VS skills.