Learning curve for pediatric laparoscopy: how many operations are enough? The Amsterdam experience with laparoscopic pyloromyotomy

Author(s): Oomen MW, Hoekstra LT, Bakx R, Heij HA


Background:Few studies on the surgical outcomes of open (OP) versus laparoscopic pyloromyotomy (LP) in the treatment of hypertrophic pyloric stenosis have been published. The question arises as to how many laparoscopic procedures are required for a surgeon to pass the learning curve and which technique is best in terms of postoperative complications. This study aimed to evaluate and quantify the learning curve for the laparoscopic technique at the authors' center. A second goal of this study was to evaluate the pre- and postoperative data of OP versus LP for infantile hypertrophic pyloric stenosis.

Methods:A retrospective analysis was performed for 229 patients with infantile hypertrophic pyloric stenosis. Between January 2002 and September 2008, 158 infants underwent OP and 71 infants had LP.

Results:The median operating time between the OP (33 min) and LP (40 min) groups was significantly different. The median hospital stay after surgery was 3 days for the OP patients and 2 days for the LP patients (p = 0.002). The postoperative complication rates were not significantly different between the OP (21.5%) and LP (21.1%) groups (p = 0.947). Complications were experienced by 31.5% of the first 35 LP patients. This rate decreased to 11.4% during the next 35 LP procedures (p = 0.041). Two perforations and three conversions occurred in the first LP group, compared with one perforation in the second LP group.

Conclusion:The number of complications decreased significantly between the first and second groups of the LP patients, with the second group of LP patients quantifying the learning curve. Not only was the complication rate lower in the second LP group, but severe complications also were decreased. This indicates that the learning curve for LP in the current series involved 35 procedures.

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