Publications by authors named "Margaret A Plymale"

29 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Ventral hernia patient outcomes postoperatively housed on surgical vs non-surgical units.

Surg Endosc 2020 Jul 27. Epub 2020 Jul 27.

Division of General Surgery, University of Kentucky Department of Surgery, UK HealthCare, 800 Rose Street, Lexington, KY, 40536, USA.

Background: Inpatient hospital units vary in staffing ratios, monitoring, procedural abilities, and experience with unique patients and diagnoses. The purpose of this study is to assess the impact of patient cohorting upon ventral hernia repair outcomes.

Methods: An IRB-approved retrospective review of open ventral hernia repairs between August 2013 and July 2017 was performed. The information of all patient locations during hospitalization, time at location, post-anesthesia care unit duration (PACU), and intensive care unit (ICU) duration was collected. Patient demographics, comorbidities, operative details, cost, and patient outcomes were analyzed. Multivariable analysis of log length of stay (LOS) was assessed with adjustment for clinical and operative factors.

Results: 235 patients underwent open ventral hernia repair. 179 patients were admitted to surgical units, 33 non-surgical units, and 23 stayed on both units. Clinical characteristics including patient age, gender, BMI, and medical comorbidities were similar between patients boarded on surgical versus non-surgical units. Hernia, wound, and operative data were also statistically similar. Patients admitted to non-surgical units for any duration experienced longer hospital stay (4 vs. 6 days, p < 0.001). Patients housed on a non-surgical unit were more likely to transfer rooms than patients on surgical units, 42.9% vs. 10.1% (p < 0.001), respectively. Multivariable analysis of natural log-transformed LOS showed any stay on a non-surgical unit increased LOS by 1.0 days (95% Cl 0.9-1.2 days, p = 0.026). There were no differences in ICU or PACU stay, cost, or postoperative complications in patients housed on surgical versus non-surgical units.

Conclusions: Postoperative surgical patients had an increased length of stay when admitted to non-surgical units. More frequent room transfers occurred in patients admitted to non-surgical units. Evaluation of patient outcomes and LOS in open ventral hernia repair patients based on hospital unit is unique to this study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00464-020-07829-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7384391PMC
July 2020

Preoperative opioid use and incidence of surgical site infection after repair of ventral and incisional hernias.

Surgery 2020 11 18;168(5):921-925. Epub 2020 Jul 18.

University of Kentucky, Division of General Surgery, Lexington, KY. Electronic address:

Background: Preoperative opioid use is a risk factor for complications after some surgical procedures. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of preoperative opiates on outcomes after ventral hernia repair.

Methods: With institutional review board approval, we conducted a retrospective review of consecutive ventral hernia repair cases during a 4-y period.

Results: A striking 48% of the total 234 patients met criteria for preoperative opioid use. Preoperative characteristics and operative details were similar between patient groups (preoperative opioid use versus no preoperative opioid use). Median duration of hospital stay trended toward an increase for opioid users versus nonopioid users (P = .06). Return of bowel function was delayed in opioid users compared with nonopioid users (P = .018). Incidence of superficial surgical site infection was increased among patients who used opioids preoperatively (27% vs 8.3%; P <.001) and remained so after multivariable logistic regression, (adjusted odds ratio 2.9, 95% confidence interval 1.2-6.7; P = .013).

Conclusion: Among patients undergoing ventral hernia repair, those with preoperative opioid use experienced an increased incidence of superficial surgical site infection compared with patients without preoperative opioid use. Further study is needed to understand the relationship between opioid use and surgical site infection after ventral hernia repair.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.surg.2020.05.048DOI Listing
November 2020

Totally extraperitoneal approach for open complex abdominal wall reconstruction.

Surg Endosc 2021 Jan 6;35(1):159-164. Epub 2020 Feb 6.

Division of General Surgery, Department of Surgery, C 222, Chandler Medical Center, University of Kentucky, 800 Rose Street, Lexington, KY, 40536, USA.

Background: Ventral hernia repair is typically performed via a transabdominal approach and the peritoneal cavity is opened and explored. Totally extraperitoneal ventral hernia repair (TEVHR) facilitates dissection of the hernia sac without entering the peritoneal cavity. This study evaluates our experience of TEVHR, addressing technique, decision-making, and outcomes.

Methods: This is an IRB-approved retrospective review of open TEVHR performed between January 2012 and December 2016. Medical records were reviewed for patient demographics, operative details, postoperative outcomes, hospital readmissions, and reoperations.

Results: One hundred sixty-six patients underwent TEVHR (84 males, 82 females) with a mean BMI range of 30-39. Eighty-six percent of patients underwent repair for primary or first-time recurrent hernia, and 89% CDC wound class I. Median hernia defect size was 135 cm. Hernia repair techniques included Rives-Stoppa (34%) or transversus abdominis release (57%). Median operative time was 175 min, median blood loss 100 mL, and median length of stay 4 days. There were no unplanned bowel resections or enterotomies. Four cases required intraperitoneal entry to explant prior mesh. Wound complication rate was 27%: 9% seroma drainage, 18% superficial surgical site infection (SSI), and 2% deep space SSI. Five patients (3%) required reoperation for wound or mesh complications. Over the study, four patients were hospitalized for postoperative small bowel obstruction and managed non-operatively. Of the 166 patients, 96%, 54%, and 44% were seen at 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month follow-ups, respectively. Recurrences were observed in 2% of patients at 12-month follow-up. One patient developed an enterocutaneous fistula 28 months postoperatively.

Conclusions: TEVHR is a safe alternative to traditional transabdominal approaches to ventral hernia repair. The extraperitoneal dissection facilitates hernia repair, avoiding peritoneal entry and adhesiolysis, resulting in decreased operative times. In our study, there was low risk for postoperative bowel obstruction and enterotomy. Future prospective studies with long-term follow-up are required to draw definitive conclusions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00464-020-07374-1DOI Listing
January 2021

Laparoscopic parastomal hernia repair delays recurrence relative to open repair.

Surg Endosc 2021 Jan 6;35(1):415-422. Epub 2020 Feb 6.

Division of General Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Kentucky, C 222, Chandler Medical Center, 800 Rose Street, Lexington, KY, 40536, USA.

Background: Mesh repair of parastomal hernia is widely accepted as superior to non-mesh repair, yet the most favorable surgical approach is a subject of continued debate. The aim of this study was to compare the clinical outcomes of open versus laparoscopic parastomal hernia repair.

Methods: An IRB-approved retrospective review was conducted comparing laparoscopic (LPHR) or open (OPHR) parastomal hernia repair performed between 2009 and 2017 at our facilities. Patient demographics, preoperative characteristics, operative details, and clinical outcomes were compared by surgical approach. Subgroup analysis was performed by location of mesh placement. Repair longevity was measured using Kaplan-Meier method and Cox proportional hazards regression. Intention to treat analysis was used for this study based on initial approach to the repair.

Results: Sixty-two patients (average age of 61 years) underwent repair (31 LPHR, 31 OPHR). Patient age, gender, BMI, ASA Class, and comorbidity status were similar between OPHR and LPHR. Stoma relocation was more common in OPHR (32% vs 7%, p = .022). Open sublay subgroup was similar to LPHR in terms of wound class and relocation. Open "Other" and Sublay subgroups resulted in more wound complications compared to LPHR (70% and 48% vs 27%, p = .036). Operative duration and hospital length of stay were less with LPHR (p < .001). After adjustment for prior hernia repair, risk of recurrence was higher for OPHR (p = .022) and Open Sublay and Other subgroups compared to LPHR (p = .005 and p = .027, respectively).

Conclusions: Laparoscopic repair of parastomal hernias is associated with shorter operative duration, decreased length of stay, fewer short-term wound complications, and increased longevity of repair compared to open repairs. Direct comparison of repair longevity between LPHR and OPHR with mesh using Kaplan-Meier estimate is unique to this study. Further study is warranted to better understand methods of parastomal hernia repair associated with fewer complications and increased durability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00464-020-07377-yDOI Listing
January 2021

Costs and Complications Associated with Infected Mesh for Ventral Hernia Repair.

Surg Infect (Larchmt) 2020 May 9;21(4):344-349. Epub 2019 Dec 9.

Division of General Surgery, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA.

Mesh hernia repair is widely accepted because of the associated reduction in hernia recurrence compared with suture-based repair. Despite initiatives to reduce risk, mesh infection and mesh removal are a significant challenge. In an era of healthcare value, it is essential to understand the global cost of care, including the incidence and cost of complications. The purpose of this study was to identify the outcomes and costs of care of patients who required the removal of infected hernia mesh. A review of databases from 2006 through June 2018 identified patients who underwent both ventral hernia repair (VHR) and re-operation for infected mesh removal. Patient demographic and operative details for both procedures, including age, Body Mass Index, mesh type, amount of time between procedures, and information regarding interval procedures were obtained. Clinical outcome measures were the length of the hospital stay, hospital re-admission, incision/non-incision complications, and re-operation. Hospital cost data were obtained from the cost accounting system and were combined with the clinical data for a cost and clinical representation of the cases. Thirty-four patients underwent both VHR and removal of infected mesh material over the 12-year time frame and were included in the analyses; the average age at VHR was 48 years, and 16 patients (47%) were female. Following VHR, 21 patients (62%) experienced incision complications within 90 days post-operatively, the complications ranging from superficial surgical site infection (SSI) to evisceration. A mean of 22.65 months passed between procedures. After mesh removal, 16 patients (47%) experienced further incisional complications; and 22 (65%) patients had at least one re-admission. Eighteen patients (53%) required a minimum of one additional related operative procedure after mesh removal. Median hospital costs nearly doubled (p < 0.001) for the mesh removal ($23,841 [interquartile range {IQR} $13,596-$42,148]) compared with the VHR admission ($13,394 [IQR $8,424-$22,161]) not accounting for re-admission costs. A majority experienced hernia recurrence subsequent to mesh removal. Mesh infection after hernia repair is associated with significant morbidity and costs. Hospital re-admission, re-operations, and recurrences are common among these patients, resulting in greater healthcare resource utilization. Development of strategies to prevent mesh infection, identify patients most likely to experience infectious complications, and define best practices for the care of patients with mesh infection are needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/sur.2019.183DOI Listing
May 2020

Clinical and Quality of Life Assessment of Patients Undergoing Laparoscopic Hiatal Hernia Repair.

Am Surg 2019 Nov;85(11):1269-1275

Hiatal hernia repair (HHR) and fundoplication are similarly performed among all hiatal hernia types with similar techniques. This study evaluates the effect of HHR using a standardized technique for cruroplasty with a reinforcing polyglycolic acid and trimethylene carbonate mesh (PGA/TMC) on patient symptoms and outcomes. A retrospective review of patient perioperative characteristics and postoperative outcomes was conducted for cases of laparoscopic hiatal hernia repair (LHHR) using a PGA/TMC mesh performed over 21 months. Gastroesophageal reflux disease symptom questionnaire responses were compared between preoperative and three postoperative time points. Ninety-six patients underwent LHHR with a PGA/TMC mesh. Postoperatively, the number of overall symptoms reported by patients decreased across all postoperative periods ( < 0.001). Patients reported a significant reduction in antacid use long term ( < 0.001). Laryngeal and regurgitation symptoms decreased at all time points ( < 0.05). There was no difference in dysphagia preoperatively and postoperatively at any time point. Individuals undergoing HHR with PGA/TMC mesh experienced improved regurgitation and laryngeal symptoms, and decreased use of antacid medication.
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November 2019

The contribution of specific enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocol elements to reduced length of hospital stay after ventral hernia repair.

Surg Endosc 2020 10 8;34(10):4638-4644. Epub 2019 Nov 8.

Division of General Surgery, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA.

Background: Ventral hernia repair (VHR) is a commonly performed procedure that may be associated with prolonged hospitalization. Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols are intended to decrease hospital length of stay (LOS) and improve outcomes. This study evaluated the impact of compliance with individual VHR ERAS elements on LOS.

Methods: With IRB approval, a medical record review (perioperative characteristics, clinical outcomes, compliance with ERAS elements) was conducted of open VHR consecutive cases performed in August 2013-July 2017. The ERAS protocol was implemented in August 2015; elements in place prior to implementation were accounted for in compliance review. Clinical predictors of LOS were determined through forward regression of log-transformed LOS. The effects of specific ERAS elements on LOS were assessed by adding them to the model in the presence of the clinical predictors.

Results: Two-hundred and thirty-four patients underwent VHR (109 ERAS, 125 pre-ERAS). Across all patients, the mean LOS was 5.4 days (SD = 3.3). Independent perioperative predictors (P's < 0.05) of increased LOS were CDC Wound Class III/IV (38% increase above the mean), COPD (35%), prior infected mesh (21%), concomitant procedure (14%), mesh size (3% per 100 cm), and age (8% increase per 10 years from mean age). Formal ERAS implementation was associated with a 15% or about 0.7 days (95% CI 6%-24%) reduction in mean LOS after adjustment. Compliance with acceleration of intestinal recovery was low (25.6%) as many patients were not eligible for alvimopan use due to preoperative opioids, yet when achieved, provided the greatest reduction in LOS (- 36%).

Conclusions: Implementation of an ERAS protocol for VHR results in decreased hospital LOS. Evaluation of the impact of specific ERAS element compliance to LOS is unique to this study. Compliance with acceleration of intestinal recovery, early postoperative mobilization, and multimodal pain management standards provided the greatest LOS reduction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00464-019-07233-8DOI Listing
October 2020

Enhanced value with implementation of an ERAS protocol for ventral hernia repair.

Surg Endosc 2020 09 1;34(9):3949-3955. Epub 2019 Oct 1.

Department of Surgery, Division of General Surgery, University of Kentucky, C 241, Chandler Medical Center, 800 Rose Street, Lexington, KY, 40536, USA.

Background: Open ventral hernia repair (VHR) is associated with postoperative complications and hospital readmissions. A comprehensive Enhanced Recovery after Surgery (ERAS) protocol for VHR contributes to improved clinical outcomes including the rapid return of bowel function and reduced infections. The purpose of this study was to compare hospital costs for patients cared for prior to ERAS implementation with patients cared for with an ERAS protocol.

Methods: With IRB approval, clinical characteristics and postoperative outcomes data were obtained via retrospective review of consecutive VHR patients 2 years prior to and 14 months post ERAS implementation. Hospital cost data were obtained from the cost accounting system inclusive of index hospitalization. Clinical data and hospital costs were compared between groups.

Results: Data for 178 patients (127 pre-ERAS, 51 post-ERAS) were analyzed. Preoperative and operative characteristics including gender, ASA class, comorbidities, and BMI were similar between groups. ERAS patients had faster return of bowel function (p = 0.001) and decreased incidence of superficial surgical site infection (p = 0.003). Hospital length of stay did not vary significantly pre and post ERAS implementation. Inpatient pharmacy costs were increased in ERAS group ($2673 vs. $1176 p < 0.001), but total hospital costs (14,692 vs. 15,151, p = 0.538) were similar between groups.

Conclusions: Standardization of hernia care via ERAS protocol improves clinical outcomes without impacting total costs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00464-019-07166-2DOI Listing
September 2020

Parastomal Hernia Repair Outcomes: A Nine-Year Experience.

Am Surg 2019 Jul;85(7):738-741

Parastomal hernias (PHs) frequently complicate enterostomy creation. Decision for PH repair (PHR) is driven by patient symptoms due to the frequency of complications and recurrences. The European Hernia Society (EHS) PH classification is based on the PH defect size and the presence/absence of concomitant incisional hernia. The aim of this study was to evaluate PHR outcomes based on EHS classification. An Institutional Review Board-approved retrospective review of a prospective database between 2009 and 2017 was performed. Patient demographics, enterostomy type, EHS classification, operative technique, and clinical outcomes (postoperative complications, 30-day readmission, and PH recurrence) were obtained. Cases were analyzed by EHS classifications I and II (SmallPH) III and IV (LargePH). Sixty-two patients underwent PHR (35: SmallPH, 27: LargePH). Patient groups (SmallPH LargePH) were similar based on American Society of Anesthesiologists Class III and obesity. Hernia recurrence was seen in 26 per cent of repairs with no difference between groups. The median recurrence-free survival was 3.9 years. There was no difference in superficial SSI, deep SSI, nonwound complications, or readmission between SmallPH and LargePH. Both small and large PHs experience similar outcomes after repair. Strategies to improve outcomes should be developed and implemented universally across all EHS PH classes.
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July 2019

Validation and Extension of the Ventral Hernia Repair Cost Prediction Model.

J Surg Res 2019 12 6;244:153-159. Epub 2019 Jul 6.

Division of General Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky. Electronic address:

Background: Repair of ventral and incisional hernias remains a costly challenge for health care systems. In a previous study of a single surgeon's elective open ventral hernia repair (VHR) practice, a cost model was developed, which predicted over 70% of hospital cost variation. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the ventral hernia cost model with multiple surgeons' elective open VHR cases and extending to include nonelective and laparoscopic VHR.

Materials And Methods: With the University of Kentucky Institutional Review Board approval, elective and emergent cases of open and laparoscopic VHR performed by multiple surgeons over 3 y were identified. Perioperative variables were obtained from the local American College of Surgeons National Surgery Quality Improvement Program database and electronic medical record review. Hospital cost data were obtained from the hospital cost accounting system. Forward multivariable regression of log-transformed costs identified independent cost drivers (P for entry < 0.05, and P for exit > 0.10).

Results: Of the 387 VHRs, 74% were open repairs; mean age was 55 y, and 52% of patients were female. For open, elective cases (n = 211; mean cost of $19,145), the previously reported six-factor cost model predicted 45% of the total cost variation. With all VHRs included, additional variables were found to independently drive costs, predicting 59% of the total cost variation from the base cost. The biggest cost drivers were inpatient status (+$1013), use of biologic mesh (+$1131), preoperative systemic inflammatory response syndrome/sepsis (+$894), and preoperative open wound (+$786).

Conclusions: Ventral hernia repair cost variability is predictable. Understanding the independent drivers of cost may be helpful in controlling costs and in negotiating appropriate reimbursement with payers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jss.2019.06.019DOI Listing
December 2019

Perioperative factors associated with pain following open ventral hernia repair.

Surg Endosc 2019 12 25;33(12):4102-4108. Epub 2019 Feb 25.

Division of General Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, C 225, 800 Rose Street, Lexington, KY, 40536, USA.

Background: Effective pain control following open ventral and incisional hernia repair (VHR) impacts all aspects of patient recovery. To reduce opioid use and enhance pain management, multimodal therapy is thought to be beneficial. The purpose of this study was to identify patient characteristics associated with perioperative patient-reported pain scores.

Methods: With IRB approval, surgical databases were searched for cases of open VHR performed over 3 years. Based on a retrospective chart review, modes of pain management and visual analog scale (VAS) pain scores were recorded in 12-h intervals to hospital discharge or to 8 days post-operation. Forward stepwise multivariable regression assessed the independent contribution of the perioperative factors to VAS pain scores.

Results: Included in the analyses were 175 patients that underwent VHR. Average age was 55 years (+/- 12.8), and half were female (50.9%). Factors independently associated with increased preoperative VAS pain scores included preoperative opioid use, preoperative open wound, CDC Wound Class II, and prior hernia repair(s). Patients with epidural for postoperative pain had significantly decreased VAS pain scores across the time continuum. Operative factors significantly associated with increased preoperative VAS pain score included median hernia defect size, concomitantly performed procedure(s), duration of operation, and estimated blood loss. Greater preoperative VAS pain score predicted increased pain at each postoperative time point (all p < .05).

Conclusions: Preoperative pain and opioid use are associated with increased pain postoperatively. Epidural analgesia effectively results in decreased patient-reported pain. Increased operative complexity is associated with increased preoperative pain scores.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00464-019-06713-1DOI Listing
December 2019

Professional fee payments by specialty for inpatient open ventral hernia repair: who gets paid for treating comorbidities and complications?

Surg Endosc 2019 02 9;33(2):494-498. Epub 2018 Jul 9.

Division of General Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA.

Background: The purpose of this study was to determine perioperative professional fee payments to providers from different specialties for the care of patients undergoing inpatient open ventral hernia repair (VHR).

Methods: Perioperative data of patients undergoing VHR at a single center over 3 years were selected from our NSQIP database. 180-day follow-up data were obtained via retrospective review of records and phone calls to patients. Professional fee payments (PFPs) to all providers were obtained from our physician billing system for the VHR hospitalization, the 180 days prior to operation (180Prior) and the 180 days post-discharge (180Post).

Results: PFPs for 283 cases were analyzed. Average total 360-day PFPs per patient were $3409 ± SD 3294, with 14.5% ($493 ± 1546) for services in the 180Preop period, 72.5% ($2473 ± 1881) for the VHR hospitalization, and 13.0% ($443 ± 1097) in the 180Postop period. The surgical service received 62% of PFPs followed by anesthesia (18%), medical specialties (9%), radiology (6%), and all other provider services (5%). Medical specialties received increased PFPs for care of patients with COPD and HCT < 38% ($90 and $521, respectively) and for the pulmonary complications ($2471) and sepsis ($2714) that correlated with those patient comorbidities; surgeons did not. Operative duration, mesh size, and separation of components were associated with increased surgeon PFPs (p < .05). At 6 months, wound complications were associated with increased surgeon and radiology payments (p < .01).

Conclusions: Management of acute comorbid conditions and the associated higher postoperative morbidity is not reimbursed to the surgeon under the 90-day global fee. These represent opportunity costs of care that pressure busy surgeons to select against these patients or to delegate more management to their medical specialty colleagues, thereby increasing total system costs. A comorbid risk adjustment of procedural reimbursement is warranted. In negotiating bundled payments, surgeon groups should keep in mind that surgeon reimbursement, unlike medical specialty and hospital reimbursement, have been bundled since the 1990s.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00464-018-6323-9DOI Listing
February 2019

Risk-Assessment Score and Patient Optimization as Cost Predictors for Ventral Hernia Repair.

J Am Coll Surg 2018 04 4;226(4):540-546. Epub 2018 Jan 4.

Department of Surgery, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY; Division of General Surgery, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. Electronic address:

Background: Ventral hernia repair (VHR) is associated with complications that significantly increase healthcare costs. This study explores the associations between hospital costs for VHR and surgical complication risk-assessment scores, need for cardiac or pulmonary evaluation, and smoking or obesity counseling.

Study Design: An IRB-approved retrospective study of patients having undergone open VHR over 3 years was performed. Ventral Hernia Risk Score (VHRS) for surgical site occurrence and surgical site infection, and the Ventral Hernia Working Group grade were calculated for each case. Also recorded were preoperative cardiology or pulmonary evaluations, smoking cessation and weight reduction counseling, and patient goal achievement. Hospital costs were obtained from the cost accounting system for the VHR hospitalization stratified by major clinical cost drivers. Univariate regression analyses were used to compare the predictive power of the risk scores. Multivariable analysis was performed to develop a cost prediction model.

Results: The mean cost of index VHR hospitalization was $20,700. Total and operating room costs correlated with increasing CDC wound class, VHRS surgical site infection score, VHRS surgical site occurrence score, American Society of Anesthesiologists class, and Ventral Hernia Working Group (all p < 0.01). The VHRS surgical site infection scores correlated negatively with contribution margin (-280; p < 0.01). Multivariable predictors of total hospital costs for the index hospitalization included wound class, hernia defect size, age, American Society of Anesthesiologists class 3 or 4, use of biologic mesh, and 2+ mesh pieces; explaining 73% of the variance in costs (p < 0.001). Weight optimization significantly reduced direct and operating room costs (p < 0.05). Cardiac evaluation was associated with increased costs.

Conclusions: Ventral hernia repair hospital costs are more accurately predicted by CDC wound class than VHR risk scores. A straightforward 6-factor model predicted most cost variation for VHR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2017.12.022DOI Listing
April 2018

Early outcomes of an enhanced recovery protocol for open repair of ventral hernia.

Surg Endosc 2018 06 21;32(6):2914-2922. Epub 2017 Dec 21.

Division of General Surgery, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA.

Background: Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols are evidence-based quality improvement pathways reported to be associated with improved patient outcomes. The purpose of this study was to compare short-term outcomes for open ventral hernia repair (VHR) before and after implementation of an ERAS protocol.

Methods: After obtaining IRB approval, surgical databases were searched for VHR cases for two years prior and eleven months after protocol implementation for retrospective review. Groups were compared on perioperative characteristics and clinical outcomes using chi-square, Fisher's exact, or Mann-Whitney U test, as appropriate.

Results: One hundred and seventy-one patients underwent VHR (46 patients with ERAS protocol in place and 125 historic controls). Age, gender, ASA Class, comorbidities, and smoking status were similar between the two groups. Body mass index was lower among ERAS patients (p = .038). ERAS patients had earlier return of bowel function (median 3 vs. 4 days) (p = .003) and decreased incidence of superficial surgical site infection (SSI) (7 vs. 25%) (p = .008) than controls.

Conclusion: An ERAS protocol for VHR demonstrated improved patient outcomes. A system-wide culture focused on enhanced recovery is needed to ensure improved patient outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00464-017-6004-0DOI Listing
June 2018

Concomitant open ventral hernia repair: what is the financial impact of performing open ventral hernia with other abdominal procedures concomitantly?

Surg Endosc 2018 04 19;32(4):1915-1922. Epub 2017 Oct 19.

University of Kentucky Department of Surgery, Lexington, KY, USA.

Background: Open ventral hernia repair (VHR) is often performed in conjunction with other abdominal procedures. Clinical outcomes and financial implications of VHR are becoming better understood; however, financial implications of concomitant VHR during other abdominal procedures are unknown. This study aimed to evaluate the financial implications of adding VHR to open abdominal procedures.

Methods: This IRB-approved study retrospectively reviewed hospital costs to 180-day post-discharge of standalone VHRs, isolated open abdominal surgeries (bowel resection or stoma closure, removal of infected mesh, hysterectomy or oophorectomy, panniculectomy or abdominoplasty, open appendectomy or cholecystectomy), performed at our institution from October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2014. The perioperative risk data were obtained from the local National Surgery Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database, and resource utilization data were obtained from the hospital cost accounting system.

Results: 345 VHRs, 1389 open abdominal procedures as described, and 104 concomitant open abdominal and VHR cases were analyzed. The VHR-only group had lower ASA Class, shorter operative duration, and a higher percentage of hernias repaired via separation of components than the concomitant group (p < 0.001). The median hospital cost for VHR-alone was $12,900 (IQR: $9500-$20,700). There were significant increases to in-hospital costs when VHR was combined with removing an infected mesh (63%) or with bowel resections or stoma closures (0.7%). The addition of VHR did not cause a significant change in 180-day post-discharge costs for any of the procedures.

Conclusions: This study noted decreased costs when combining VHR with panniculectomy or abdominoplasty and hysterectomy or oophorectomy. For removal of infected mesh and bowel resection or stoma closure, waiting, when feasible, is recommended. Given the impending changes in financial reimbursements in healthcare in the United States, it is prudent that future studies evaluate further the clinical and fiscal benefit of concomitant procedures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00464-017-5884-3DOI Listing
April 2018

Predictors of outpatient resource utilization following ventral and incisional hernia repair.

Surg Endosc 2018 04 15;32(4):1695-1700. Epub 2017 Sep 15.

Division of General Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, C 225, Chandler Medical Center, 800 Rose Street, Lexington, KY, 40536, USA.

Introduction: Little is known about the predictors of increased ambulatory costs following open ventral and incisional hernia repair (VIHR); however, postoperative complications would be expected to be associated with an increased burden on outpatient resources. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of perioperative factors on outpatient resource utilization following VIHR.

Methods: With IRB approval, the surgery scheduling system was queried to identify all cases of VIHR done at our institution over 3 years. Cases with other procedures done at time of VIHR were excluded. National Surgical Quality Improvement Program clinical data, physician billing data which included market and payor across cases, and medical record review data were combined and evaluated in order to quantify care and predictors of usage during the 6 months postoperatively.

Results: Data were analyzed for 308 patients. Median patient age was 52 years (SD = 13.3), and over half were female. The number of outpatient visits to the surgical office varied from 0 to 18 [median = 2; interquartile range (IQR) = 1-3]. CDC Wound Class >1 was associated with increase of mean 1.4 visits (IQR: 0.5-2.3); p = 0.003. Component separation, longer duration of operation, and increased mesh size were also predictive of increased number of office visits (p < 0.01). Postoperative infected seroma/seroma requiring drainage added a mean 2.3 visits (IQR: 1.3-3.3), (p < 0.001); and deep wound infection added a mean 3.9 visits (IQR: 1.9-5.9) (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Postoperative complications confer a significant burden for patients and to the outpatient surgical office. In an era in which improved quality and cost-efficiency has become imperative, measures to decrease risk of postoperative complications particularly for more complex VIHR would be expected to decrease resource utilization and increase value of care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00464-017-5849-6DOI Listing
April 2018

Ventral hernia repair with poly-4-hydroxybutyrate mesh.

Surg Endosc 2018 04 15;32(4):1689-1694. Epub 2017 Sep 15.

Division of General Surgery, Department of Surgery, C 225, Chandler Medical Center, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, 800 Rose Street, Lexington, KY, 40536, USA.

Background: Biomaterial research has made available a biologically derived fully resorbable poly-4-hydroxybutyrate (P4HB) mesh for use in ventral and incisional hernia repair (VIHR). This study evaluates outcomes of patients undergoing VIHR with P4HB mesh.

Methods: An IRB-approved prospective pilot study was conducted to assess clinical and quality of life (QOL) outcomes for patients undergoing VIHR with P4HB mesh. Perioperative characteristics were defined. Clinical outcomes, employment status, QOL using 12-item short form survey (SF-12), and pain assessments were followed for 24 months postoperatively.

Results: 31 patients underwent VIHR with bioresorbable mesh via a Rives-Stoppa approach with retrorectus mesh placement. The median patient age was 52 years, median body mass index was 33 kg/m, and just over half of the patients were female. Surgical site occurrences occurred in 19% of patients, most of which were seroma. Hernia recurrence rate was 0% (median follow-up = 414 days). Patients had significantly improved QOL at 24 months compared to baseline for SF-12 physical component summary and role emotional (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Ventral hernia repair with P4HB bioresorbable mesh results in favorable outcomes. Early hernia recurrence was not identified among the patient cohort. Quality of life improvements were noted at 24 months versus baseline for this cohort of patients with bioresorbable mesh. Use of P4HB mesh for ventral hernia repair was found to be feasible in this patient population. (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01863030).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00464-017-5848-7DOI Listing
April 2018

Complex Ventral Hernia Repair with Acellular Dermal Matrices: Clinical and Quality of Life Outcomes.

Am Surg 2017 Feb;83(2):141-147

Acellular dermal matrices (ADMs) are used in conjunction with complex hernia repair, but their efficacy is often debated. This study assesses clinical and quality of life (QOL) outcomes in multiply comorbid patients undergoing complex ventral hernia repair using ADMs. After obtaining institutional review board approval, a prospective study was conducted evaluating patients undergoing complex ventral incisional hernia repair with abdominal wall reconstruction (AWR) using either human (Flex HD) or porcine ADM (Strattice). Patient accrual occurred over three years. Demographics, comorbid conditions, and operative details were recorded. Postoperative two-week, six-week, six-month, and one-year follow-up occurred. Primary outcomes measures include wound occurrence, QOL parameters using the Short Form-12 health survey, and hernia recurrence. Groups were compared using chi-squared, Fisher's exact, Mann-Whitney U, or t tests as appropriate. Significance was set at P < 0.05. Thirty-five patients underwent hernia repair using ADM: mean age = 58 years, mean body mass index = 34 kg/m2, >50 per cent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wound Class II and above, >50 per cent recurrent hernia repair, and 25 per cent current or previous mesh infection. Twenty patients (57%) experienced surgical site occurrences, 15 (43%) wound infections, and 5 (14%) recurrences with a median follow-up of one year. All Short Form-12 QOL indicators improved at 12 months compared with baseline (NS). Outcomes were similar between mesh types. In conclusion, abdominal wall reconstruction for complex hernias using biologic materials is safe but has significant morbidity. Wound complications occur in over half of all patients and are not impacted by ADM type. There is no decrement in QOL one year after hernia repair despite associated morbidity.
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February 2017

Hiatal Hernia Cruroplasty with a Running Barbed Suture Compared to Interrupted Suture Repair.

Am Surg 2016 09;82(9):e271-4

Department of Surgery, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA.

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September 2016

Compliance of the abdominal wall during laparoscopic insufflation.

Surg Endosc 2017 04 23;31(4):1947-1951. Epub 2016 Aug 23.

Department of Surgery, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, 800 Rose Street, UKMC C-222, Lexington, KY, 40536-0298, USA.

Background: To provide adequate workspace between the viscera and abdominal wall, insufflation with carbon dioxide is a common practice in laparoscopic surgeries. An insufflation pressure of 15 mmHg is considered to be safe in patients, but all insufflation pressures create perioperative and postoperative physiologic effects. As a composition of viscoelastic materials, the abdominal wall should distend in a predictable manner given the pressure of the pneumoperitoneum. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the relationship between degree of abdominal distention and the insufflation pressure, with the goal of determining factors which impact the compliance of the abdominal wall.

Methods: A prospective, IRB-approved study was conducted to video record the abdomens of patients undergoing insufflation prior to a laparoscopic surgery. Photo samples were taken every 5 s, and the strain of the patient's abdomen in the sagittal plane was determined, as well as the insufflator pressure (stress) at bedside. Patients were insufflated to 15 mmHg. The relationship between the stress and strain was determined in each sample, and compliance of the patient's abdominal wall was calculated. Subcutaneous fat thickness and rectus abdominus muscle thickness were obtained from computed tomography scans. Correlations between abdominal wall compliances and subcutaneous fat and muscle content were determined.

Results: Twenty-five patients were evaluated. An increased fat thickness in the abdominal wall had a direct exponential relationship with abdominal wall compliance (R  = 0.59, p < 0.05). There was no correlation between muscle and fat thickness.

Conclusion: All insufflation pressures create perioperative and postoperative complications. The compliance of patients' abdominal body walls differs, and subcutaneous fat thickness has a direct exponential relationship with abdominal wall compliance. Thus, insufflation pressures can be better tailored per the patient. Future studies are needed to demonstrate the clinical impact of varying insufflation pressures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00464-016-5201-6DOI Listing
April 2017

Ventral and incisional hernia: the cost of comorbidities and complications.

Surg Endosc 2017 01 10;31(1):341-351. Epub 2016 Jun 10.

Division of General Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, C 225, Chandler Medical Center, 800 Rose Street, Lexington, KY, 40536, USA.

Introduction: Ventral and incisional hernia repair (VIHR) is among the most frequently performed abdominal operations with significant incidence of postoperative complications and readmissions. Payers are targeting increased "value" of care through improved outcomes and reduced costs. Cost data in clinically relevant terms is still rare. This study aims to identify hospital costs associated with clinically relevant factors in order to facilitate strategies by surgeons to enhance the value of VIHR.

Methods: An IRB-approved retrospective review of VIHRs performed at the University of Kentucky from April 2009 through September 2013 was conducted. NSQIP clinical data and hospital cost data were matched. Operating room (ORC), total encounter (TEC), and 90-day postdischarge (90PDC) hospital costs were analyzed relative to clinical variables using non-parametric tests.

Results: In total 385 patients that underwent VIHR during the time period were included in the analyses. Considering all VIHRs, median [interquartile range (IQR)] ORC was $6900 ($5600-$10,000); TEC was $10,700 ($7500-$18,600); and 90PDC was $0 ($0-$800). Compared to all VIHRs, ASA Class ≥ 3 was associated with increased ORC and TEC (p < .001), and 90PDC (p < .01). Preoperative open wound was associated with increased ORC and TEC (p < .001). Numerous operative variables were associated with both increased ORC and TEC. Wound Class > 1 was associated with increased ORC and TEC (p < .001) and 90PDC (p < .01). Inpatient occurrence of any complication was associated with increased TEC and 90PDC (p < .001).

Conclusions: ASA Class ≥ 3, Wound Class > 1, open abdominal wound, and postoperative complications significantly increase costs. Although the hospital encounter represents the majority of the cost associated with VIHR, additional costs are incurred during the 90-day postoperative period. An appreciation of global costs is essential in developing alternative payment models for hernia in order to provide the greatest value in hernia care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00464-016-4977-8DOI Listing
January 2017

Abdominal Wall Reconstruction: The Uncertainty of the Impact of Drain Duration upon Outcomes.

Am Surg 2016 Mar;82(3):207-11

Department of Surgery, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA.

Drains are commonly used after abdominal wall reconstruction (AWR) to prevent seroma formation. Drain management is subjective, and the merits and drawbacks of drains are not well understood. After receiving Institutional Review Board approval, we queried our prospectively maintained surgical database for AWR cases from 2009 to 2012 to ascertain if the number of days postoperatively that drains are left in place impacts the incidence of surgical site complications. Number of drains, drain duration, wound complications, and interval to development of complications were recorded. Wound complications were defined as superficial cellulitis, seroma, hematoma, superficial infection, and deep infection. Among 117 AWRs, we investigated the 64 cases with Centers for Disease Control grade one wound classification. Longest drain duration varied widely (2-171 days postoperatively; mean = 22 days). Cases were divided into four groups based on duration prior to removal of all drains: ≤7 days (n = 18), 8 to 14 days (n = 16), 15 to 28 days (n = 18), or ≥29 days (n = 12). No significant relationship was found between incidence of seroma/hematoma and days postoperatively of last drain removal. Wound complications increased linearly with drain time. Using logistic regression to adjust for obesity (body mass index >35kg/m(2)), drain duration >2 weeks and operative time >220 minutes, only body mass index >35 remained an independent predictor of wound occurrence, P < 0.05. Wound complications occur frequently after AWR. Wound infections occur more commonly among patients with drains in place for more than 2 weeks. Strategies to reduce drain duration require furthermore investigation.
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March 2016

Abdominal Wall Reconstruction: A Comparison of Totally Extraperitoneal and Transabdominal Preperitoneal Approaches.

J Am Coll Surg 2016 Feb 25;222(2):159-65. Epub 2015 Nov 25.

Division of General Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY. Electronic address:

Background: Abdominal wall reconstruction for complex ventral and incisional hernias is associated with significant complications. Commonly, the peritoneal cavity is opened and adhesiolysis is performed with the potential for enterotomy. A totally extraperitoneal (TE) approach to abdominal wall reconstruction is feasible in many ventral hernia repairs and can reduce visceral injuries without impacting other outcomes. This study compares outcomes after retro-rectus ventral hernia repairs with TE and transabdominal (TA) preperitoneal approaches.

Study Design: An IRB-approved review of a prospective hernia database was performed for all ventral hernia repairs between 2009 and 2013. Preoperative patient characteristics, including demographics and comorbidities; operative variables, including surgical technique, operative duration, type/size/location of mesh, concomitant procedures, and incidence of inadvertent injury; and patient outcomes in terms of length of stay, wound and nonwound complications, and readmissions or returns to the operating room were obtained. Groups were compared using t-tests, Mann-Whitney U tests, chi-square tests, and Fisher's exact tests as appropriate. Significance was set at p < .05.

Results: One hundred and seventy-five complex abdominal wall reconstructions were performed between 2009 and 2013. Of those, 85 patients underwent hernia repair for CDC grade 1 hernias with retro-rectus mesh placement performed (n = 45 TA, n = 40 TE). Groups did not differ in age, BMI, sex, smoking status, hernia defect size, history of COPD, asthma, hypertension, cancer, or renal failure. More TA patients had diabetes (36% vs. 13%; p = 0.02) and previous hernia repair (73% vs. 45%; p = 0.01) than TE patients. Mesh size was larger in the TE group (625 ± 234 cm(2) vs. 424 ± 214 cm(2); p < .001). There was no difference in enterotomy between TA and TE groups (0% vs. 2%; p = 1.0). However, there was a reduced operative time with TE (170 ± 49 minutes vs. 212 ± 49 minutes; p < .001).

Conclusions: Abdominal wall reconstruction can be performed safely in a TE fashion. The extraperitoneal approach results in shorter operative duration, but had similar complications when compared with TA preperitoneal approach.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2015.11.012DOI Listing
February 2016

Laparoscopic parastomal hernia repair: No different than a laparoscopic ventral hernia repair?

Surg Endosc 2016 Apr 7;30(4):1542-6. Epub 2015 Jul 7.

Division of General Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, 800 Rose Street, UKMC C-222, Lexington, KY, 40536-0298, USA.

Background: Parastomal hernia (PH) is a common complication when a stoma is used. The high incidence (35-50%) and patient longevity have created a situation where patients are being referred for consideration of repair with more frequency. Due to the presence of an ostomy and the increased bacterial contamination of the area, the insertion of a prosthetic material is concerning for complications. Laparoscopic repair of parastomal hernias utilizing a modified Sugarbaker technique has been demonstrated to have excellent outcomes. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that laparoscopic PH repair has outcomes similar to laparoscopic ventral hernia (LVH) repair without the presence of a stoma.

Methods: After obtaining institutional review board approval, patients with parastomal hernia who underwent laparoscopic repair using Sugarbaker technique between 2009 and 2012 were compared to patients with ventral hernias who underwent LVH repair in a retrospective review, with a match of 1:3. Data collected included demographics, comorbidities, operative time, defect size, and mesh size. Outcomes and complications were compared between the two groups.

Results: Twenty patients underwent Sugarbaker repair, and these cases were compared to 60 patients with ventral hernia that received LVH repair. There was no statistically significant difference in age, BMI, smoking status, ASA score, defect size, or mesh size between groups. Operative time was significantly longer in the PH group: 172 ± 35 versus the LVH group: 94 ± 32 min (p < 0.1). Length of stay was longer, 3 days (3-5.5) for PH versus 1 day (1-2.8) for LVH, p < 0.1. The two groups did not differ in terms of wound complications or recurrence, with a median follow-up of 37 days (IQ range 27-518).

Conclusion: The Sugarbaker technique is as safe as LVH repair with no more complications given the presence of a stoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00464-015-4370-zDOI Listing
April 2016

Variation in faculty evaluations of clerkship students attributable to surgical service.

J Surg Educ 2010 May-Jun;67(3):179-83

Department of Surgery, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky 40536-0298, USA.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine whether students' performance evaluations by faculty were influenced by the clinical service on which the student was evaluated.

Methods: Third-year medical students spent 8 weeks rotating on 3 (or 2) surgical services. Typically, students rotate on one 4-week general surgery service and two 2-week subspecialty services. Faculty members rated student performance on 5 characteristics and provided a numeric grade. Data were analyzed to determine whether any significant variations in evaluation patterns emerged.

Results: A total of 1033 evaluations were included in the analyses. Based on an analysis of variance, the numeric grade varied significantly by service (p < 0.001). The partial eta squared statistic was large (0.21). Ratings of students' performance on specific performance characteristics also varied significantly by service (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: The assessment of a surgical student's clinical performance is influenced by the specific services on which he/she has rotated and may be related to the length of the rotation. Research is needed to determine whether the differences among services should be considered as a source of error in grading or considered to reflect the particular challenge of the service.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsurg.2010.03.003DOI Listing
October 2010

360-degree evaluations of plastic surgery resident accreditation council for graduate medical education competencies: experience using a short form.

Plast Reconstr Surg 2008 Aug;122(2):639-649

Lexington, Ky. From the Division of Plastic Surgery and the Department of Surgery Education, University of Kentucky.

Background: The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education has asked training programs to develop methods to evaluate resident performance, using competencies essential for outcomes.

Methods: A two-page form was completed by 12 surgeons and 28 nurses and clinical staff directly involved in plastic surgery patient care (n = 40), evaluating University of Kentucky plastic surgery residents at each level of training (n = 6). There were eight groups of health care professionals among the 40. Six Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education competencies were rated, with technical/operative skills added as a subset of patient care. Hierarchical cluster analysis was used to determine similarity of rating profiles of the rating groups; Kruskal-Wallis analysis of variance delineated the way in which the participants used the competencies to make their selections by asking them whether they would choose the resident for future surgical care.

Results: Rating profiles revealed two clusters of raters. In one cluster were nurses assigned to an ambulatory surgery center, faculty, residents, and an intern (the surgeons' cluster; n = 15); in the second cluster were other nurses and clinical staff (nurses' cluster; n = 25). The nurses' cluster was found to rate residents more positively, and the surgeons' cluster more often cited areas for improvement. Specific competencies deemed important to each group were identified.

Conclusions: Resident performance is rated differently by health care professionals, in two distinct groups. Based on this clustered arrangement, the resident is able quarterly to enjoy two, independent, formative assessments, potentially over 6 years of integrated training.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/PRS.0b013e31817d5fbdDOI Listing
August 2008

Enhancing the clinical skills of surgical residents through structured cancer education.

Ann Surg 2004 Apr;239(4):561-6

University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington 40536, USA.

Objective: To assess the short and long-term educational value of a highly structured, interactive Breast Cancer Structured Clinical Instruction Module (BCSCIM).

Summary Background Data: Cancer education for surgical residents is generally unstructured, particularly when compared with surgical curricula like the Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) course.

Methods: Forty-eight surgical residents were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 groups. Two of the groups received the BCSCIM and 2 served as controls. One of the BCSCIM groups and 1 of the control groups were administered an 11-problem Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) immediately after the workshop; the other 2 groups were tested with the same OSCE 8 months later. The course was an intensive multidisciplinary, multistation workshop where residents rotated in pairs from station to station interacting with expert faculty members and breast cancer patients.

Results: Residents who took the BCSCIM outperformed the residents in the control groups for each of the 7 performance measures at both the immediate and 8-month test times (P < 0.01). Although the residents who took the BCSCIM had higher competence ratings than the residents in the control groups, there was a decline in the faculty ratings of resident competence from the immediate test to the 8-month test (P < 0.004).

Conclusions: This interactive patient-based workshop was associated with objective evidence of educational benefit as determined by a unique method of outcome assessment.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1356262PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/01.sla.0000118568.75888.04DOI Listing
April 2004

Faculty evaluation of surgery clerkship students: important components of written comments.

Acad Med 2002 Oct;77(10 Suppl):S45-7

Department of Surgery, Education Office, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY 40536, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00001888-200210001-00015DOI Listing
October 2002