The impact of surgical training on early and long-term outcomes after isolated aortic valve surgery

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Patients presenting with more comorbidities, requiring more complex cardiac surgical procedures and an increase in public scrutiny are impacting on training programme because of the perceived risk of worse outcomes. Hence, we aimed to provide evidence that trainees as the first operator can achieve comparable results to consultants when performing isolated surgical aortic valve replacement.

From 1996 to 2017, 2919 patients underwent surgical aortic valve replacement at the Bristol Heart Institute, operated on by either a consultant (n = 2220) or a trainee (n = 870) as the first operator. Propensity score matching was used to adjust for imbalance in the baseline characteristics of the 2 groups.

Over a 21-year period, the proportion of trainee cases dropped from 41.5% to 25.9%. No differences in the rates and risk of in-hospital mortality, new cerebrovascular accidents, re-exploration for bleeding, deep sternal wound infection and length of stay were found between patients operated on in the 2 groups. Also, there was a comparable risk of late death between the 2 groups (HR 0.88; 95% CI 0.73–1.06; P = 0.27) and this was present regardless of trainees career level and patients surgical risk based on the EuroSCORE. Finally, we showed an increase in patients risk profile in the latest year but, this was not associated with the worst outcomes when trainees performed the operation.

Surgical aortic valve replacement is a safe and reproducible technique and regardless of the patient’s risk profile, and no differences in the outcomes between trainees and consultant cases were found.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberezab328
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery
Issue number1
Early online date6 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2021

Structured keywords

  • Bristol Heart Institute


  • surgical training
  • medical education
  • aortic valve replacement
  • surgical education


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