To analyze outcomes of resident-performed phacoemulsifications and to assess the resident phacoemulsification learning curve.
Retrospective chart review of resident-performed phacoemulsification cases at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Decatur, Georgia, from July 1, 1999, through June 30, 2002. Outcomes measured included postoperative uncorrected visual acuity (UCVA), best spectacle-corrected visual acuity (BSCVA), intraoperative complications, and adjusted phacoemulsification times (total phacoemulsification time multiplied by phacoemulsification power used).
We analyzed 680 cases. Postoperative mean UCVA was 20/39, and mean BSCVA was 20/25 (≥ 20/20 in 44.0% of cases and ≥ 20/40 in 97.8%). There were no differences in visual acuity outcomes over the course of residency training. Intraoperative complications occurred in 34 cases (5.0%), with a significant reduction in vitreous loss rates after the first 80 resident cases (5.1% vs 1.9%; P = .03). Mean adjusted phacoemulsification time was 0.68 minutes, with a significant reduction in adjusted phacoemulsification time after the first 80 cases (0.87 vs 0.52 minutes; P < .001).
Quality visual outcomes after phacoemulsification can be attained throughout residency training; however, surgical competency, when measured by complication rates and phacoemulsification efficiency, continues to improve significantly with increasing surgical experience well beyond the first 80 resident phacoemulsification cases.