Surgeons Aged 35 to 50 Years Perform Best Thyroidectomies

Concave association seen for surgeons' performance with their length of experience, age

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Surgeons aged 35 to 50 years appear to perform thyroidectomies better than their younger or older colleagues, according to a study published online Jan. 11 in BMJ.

Antoine Duclos, M.D., Ph.D., of the Hospices Civils de Lyon in France, and colleagues conducted a prospective, cross-sectional study of all patients who underwent a thyroidectomy in five academic hospitals in France from April 1, 2008, to Dec. 31, 2009. The association between length of experience and postoperative complications was assessed.

The researchers found that, during a one-year period, 28 surgeons performed 3,574 thyroid procedures. The overall rate of recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy was 2.08 percent, while the rate for hypoparathyroidism was 2.69 percent. In a multivariate analysis, there was a significantly increased likelihood of both recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy (odds ratio [OR], 3.06) and hypoparathyroidism (OR, 7.56) with 20 years or more practice. Significant, concave associations were seen for surgeons' performance with their length of experience and age. Better outcomes were seen for surgeons aged 35 to 50 years, compared with their younger and older colleagues.

"Optimum individual performance in thyroid surgery cannot be passively achieved or maintained by accumulating experience. Factors contributing to poor performance in very experienced surgeons should be explored further," the authors write.

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