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Use of Minimally Invasive Surgery Varies Widely — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
July 9, 2014

Use of Minimally Invasive Surgery Varies Widely

By Joe Elia

Edited by David G. Fairchild, MD, MPH, and Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, FACP, FASAM

Minimally invasive surgery is associated with fewer infections and quicker recovery, yet its use in the U.S. shows wide variation, according to a study in The BMJ.

Researchers used a national inpatient database for 2010 to examine how often four procedures — appendectomy, partial colectomy, abdominal hysterectomy, and lung lobectomy — were done using a minimally invasive approach. Overall, appendectomy was most often done with the minimalist approach (averaging 71%), yet utilization varied from 41% in the lowest third of hospitals to 93% in the highest third. To take another example, with hysterectomy the average was 13%, ranging from zero to 34%.

The authors speculate that one reason for this variation may stem from the fact that surgical residents are learning from mentors who themselves lack training in minimally invasive technique. As hospitals struggle to find new ways to minimize surgical site infections, the authors observe, they may be overlooking an important path to that goal.

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