INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVES: We previously reported the successful attainment of laparoscopic skills in a group of practicing pediatric urologists without previous formal laparoscopic training. During the mentorship period, the four urologists (trainees A, B, C, and D) performed a number of renal retroperitoneal laparoscopic procedures (RRLP) under the tutelage of an expert mentor. Specifically, trainee A performed or assisted in 8 RRLP while trainees B, C, and D performed/assisted in 10, 7, or 18 RRLP, respectively. Herein we assessed the outcome of this training program and practice pattern of this same group of urologists.
METHODS: Following the completion of the mentorship period, we reviewed the outcomes of all of the consecutive RRLP performed from September 2001 to March 2005 with respect to operative time, conversion rate, perioperative complications and length of hospital stay (LOS). Furthermore, we attempted to correlate the number of procedures each surgeon performed both during and subsequent to the mentorship period.
RESULTS: Fifty-two ablative RRLP including nephrectomy (n=38), partial nephrectomy (n=12), or synchronous bilateral nephrectomy (n=2), were performed on 50 patients (19 males, 31 females) with a mean age of 5.5 years (range 4 months-14 years). Trainee A performed 16/40 procedures, trainees B and C each performed 2/40, while trainee D performed 20/40 procedures. Mean operative time was 2.4 hours (range 1.5-6.3 hours). Five patients required open conversion due to inability to obtain retroperitoneal access (n=3) or failure to progress (n=2). Two patients (one nephrectomy, one partial nephrectomy) developed retroperitoneal urinomas requiring temporary urinary diversion. There were no other perioperative complications and mean LOS was 1.2 days (range 1-4 days). More advanced reconstructive procedures have since been performed with the aid of laparoscopic exposure; trainee D has thus far successfully performed 12 laparoscopically assisted pyeloplasties.
CONCLUSIONS: This series demonstrates the effectiveness of the mentorship-training model to introduce RRLP to a pediatric urology training program. It is evident that the post-mentorship practice is affected by the number of cases initially performed during the training period. The development of an "expert" laparoscopist is dependent not only on initial training experience, but continued education through ongoing case exposure.