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The Role of Plastic Surgery at an Academic Medical Center in the United States

Pu, Lee L.Q. MD, PhD; Mirmanesh, Michael MD

doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000001052
Circumspectus Medicinae: Text and Context

Background Plastic surgery may have traditionally been labelled as a “less essential” service at many academic medical centers in the United States. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the role of the plastic surgery team as a valuable service at an academic medical center.

Methods We performed a 10-year retrospective case review of a single plastic surgeon's case log at 2 academic medical institutions, each with an active plastic surgery training program. Plastic surgical procedures performed in combination with other services and surgical management of complications from nonplastic surgical procedures was evaluated. Plastic surgical procedures performed for all types of reconstruction as a primary service, including breast reconstruction were excluded. The role of the plastic surgery service was evaluated to identify the types of assistance provided, which primary services were involved and what the most common procedures performed were for each service.

Results The type of assistance provided by the plastic surgery service was divided into 2 common categories. The first type involved a concurrent or combined surgical case where the procedure required plastic surgery’s participation. The second group included management of complications that occurred on another service, which then required assistance by the plastic surgery team. A total of thirteen primary services were identified as benefitting from involvement with plastic surgery. The most commonly performed reconstructive procedures provided for each service were identified.

Conclusions The plastic surgery team provides invaluable support to other services in a tertiary teaching hospital. Its input allows for more complex surgical procedures to be performed safely and for complications of surgery to be managed successfully. Clearly, plastic surgery plays a critical role at academic medical centers in the United States.

From the Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, CA.

Received December 8, 2016, and accepted for publication, after revision December 22, 2016.

Conflicts of interest and sources of funding: none declared.

Reprints: Lee L.Q. Pu, MD, PhD, Division of Plastic Surgery, University of California, Davis, 2221 Stockton Boulevard, Suite 2123, Sacramento, CA 95817. E-mail:

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