Learning curves describe the rate of performance improvements according to the surgeon’s caseload, followed by a plateau where limited additional improvements are observed. The aim of this study was to evaluate the learning curve for robotic-assisted transabdominal preperitoneal repair (rTAPP) for inguinal hernias in surgeons already experienced in laparoscopic TAPP.
The study was approved by local ethic committee. Male patients undergoing rTAPP for inguinal hernia from October 2017 to December 2019 at the Bellinzona Regional Hospital were selected from a prospective database. Demographic and clinical data, including operative time, conversion to laparoscopic or open surgery, intra- and postoperative complications were collected and analyzed.
Over the study period, 170 rTAPP were performed by three surgeons in 132 patients, and mean age was 60.1 ± 13.7 years. The cumulative summation (CUSUM) test showed a significant operative time reduction after the 43rd operation, once the 90% proficiency on the logarithmic tendency line was achieved. The corrected operative time resulted 71.1 ± 22.0 vs. 60.8 ± 13.5 min during and after the learning curve (p = 0.011). Only one intraoperative complication occurred during the learning curve and required an orchiectomy. Postoperatively, three complications (one seroma, one hematoma, and one mesh infection) required invasive interventions during the learning curve, while no cases were recorded after it (p = 0.312).
Our study shows that the rTAPP, performed by experienced laparoscopists, has a learning curve which requires 43 inguinal hernia repairs to achieve 90% proficiency and to significantly reduce the operative time.
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Drs. Francesco Proietti, Davide La Regina, Ramon Pini, Matteo Di Giuseppe, Agnese Cianfarani, and Francesco Mongelli have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.
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Proietti, F., La Regina, D., Pini, R. et al. Learning curve of robotic-assisted transabdominal preperitoneal repair (rTAPP) for inguinal hernias. Surg Endosc (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00464-020-08165-4
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