Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84132, USA.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this retrospective case review is to examine the effect of surgical learning on hearing outcomes and complications in congenital aural atresia surgery.
PATIENTS: Sixty-four consecutive ears (in 60 patients) operated on during the period of 1994 to 2004 at a tertiary referral center were studied.
INTERVENTION(S): Intervention consisted of aural atresiaplasty through an anterior approach by the same surgeon (C.S.).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Hearing outcomes and complication rates were compared between four temporally sequential groups of 16 ears. Acceptable hearing and complication rate outcomes were defined as results comparable to larger series in the literature.
RESULTS: Hearing results, in the short term, comparable to larger series were achieved during the first group of ears (nos. 1-16). A plateau in the learning curve for short-term hearing outcomes was achieved after the first two groups, that is, after 32 ears. Hearing outcomes, in the long term (>1 year) comparable to larger series, were achieved in the second group of ears (nos. 16-32). The learning curve for long-term hearing demonstrated a significant improvement in outcomes in the final group of 16 ears compared with the first 48 ears. Long-term hearing results for the final group show closure of the postoperative air-bone gap to less than 30 dB in 94% of cases. Postoperative complication rates were equivalent to larger series in the first group of 16 ears and showed no statistically significant difference between the four groups. There was one patient with sensorineural hearing loss after surgery; there were no anacoustic ears and no facial palsies in the study group.
CONCLUSIONS: A learning curve of at least 32 ears was required to achieve stable short-term hearing results. To achieve stable long-term hearing results required a learning curve of at least 48 patients in our series. Complication rates remained stable throughout the study period.
PMID: 17202933 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]