Current practice of orthopaedic surgical skills training raises performance of supervised residents in total knee arthroplasty to levels equal to those of orthopaedic surgeons

Luuk Theelen*, Cheryll Bischoff, Bernd Grimm, Ide C. Heyligers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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To investigate whether the current, generally accepted practice of orthopaedic surgical skills training can raise the performance of supervised residents to levels equal to those of experienced orthopaedic surgeons when it comes to clinical outcomes or implant position after total knee arthroplasty.

In a retrospective analysis of primary total knee arthroplasty outcomes (minimum follow-up of 12 months) procedures were split into two groups: supervised orthopaedic residents as first surgeon (group R), and experienced senior orthopaedic surgeons as first surgeon (group S). Outcome data that were compared 1 year postoperatively were operation times, complications, revisions, Knee Society Scores (KSS) and radiological implant positions.

Of 642 included procedures, 220 were assigned to group R and 422 to group S. No statistically significant differences between the two groups were found in patient demographics. Operation time differed significantly (group R: 81.3min vs. group S: 71.3min (p = 0.000)). No statistically significant differences were found for complications (p = 0.659), revision rate (p = 0.722), femoral angle (p = 0.871), tibial angle (p = 0.804), femoral slope (p = 0.779), tibial slope (p = 0.765) and KSS (p = 0.148).

Supervised residents needed 10 minutes extra operation time, but they provided the same quality of care in primary total knee arthroplasty as experienced orthopaedic surgeons concerning complication rates, revisions, implant position on radiographs and KSS. The currently used training procedure in which the supervising surgeon and the resident decide if the resident is ready to be first surgeon is safe for patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-132
Number of pages7
JournalPerspectives on Medical Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • Total knee arthroplasty
  • Orthopaedic surgery
  • Orthopaedic residency
  • Surgical training
  • Training hospital

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