BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Within the past few years, there has been a push for an even more minimally invasive approach to biliary disease with the adoption of single-incision laparoscopic cholecystectomy. We sought to compare 4 individual surgeon experiences to define whether there exists a learning curve for performing single-incision laparoscopic cholecystectomy. METHODS: We performed a retrospective review 290 single-incision laparoscopic cholecystectomies performed by a group of general surgeons, with varying levels of experience and training, at 3 institutions between May 2008 and September 2010. The procedure times were recorded for each single-incision laparoscopic cholecystectomy, ordered chronologically for each surgeon, and subsequently plotted on a graph. The patients were also combined into cohorts of 5 and 10 cases to further evaluate for signs of improvement in operative efficiency. RESULTS: Of the 4 surgeons involved in the study, only 1 (surgeon 4, laparoscopic fellowship trained with <5 >years' experience) confirmed the presence of a learning curve, reaching proficiency within the first 15 cases performed. The other surgeons had more variable procedure times, which did not show a distinct trend. When we evaluated the cases by cohorts of 5 cases, surgeon 4 had a significant difference between the first and last cohort. Increased body mass index resulted in a slightly longer operative time (P < .0063). The conversion rate to multiport laparoscopic surgery was 3.1%. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that among experienced general surgeons, there does not seem to be a significant learning curve when transitioning from conventional laparoscopic cholecystectomy to single-incision laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The least experienced surgeon in the group, surgeon 4, appeared to reach proficiency after 15 cases. Greater than 5 years of experience in laparoscopic surgery appears to provide surgeons with a sufficient skill set to obviate the need for a single-incision laparoscopic cholecystectomy learning curve.
Faculty; Northwell Researcher
School of Medicine; Northwell Health