Cronenwett JL. Vascular surgery training in the United States, 1994 to 2003. J Vasc Surg.2004 Oct;40(4):660-9.

PMID: 15472592


The purpose of this study was to analyse the use of operative training resources for vascular surgery residents (VSRs) and general surgery residents (GSRs) over the past 10 years in the United States, to address questions concerning adequate endovascular versus open surgical training and the potential to expand the number of VSRs to meet future workforce needs.

National operative data from the Residency Review Committee for Surgery (RRC) were analysed for all vascular surgery (VS) and general surgery (GS) training programs from 1994 to 2003. GSR experience in programs with and without associated VS programs was also compared.

Mean total VS volume per VSR increased from 220 operations in 1994 to 368 in 2003, owing to the addition of 140 endovascular procedures by 2003. GSR volume was more stable, with 117 mean total VS operations in 1994 and 122 in 2003. This volume was distributed as approximately 50% major open VS operations for both VSR and GSR. In addition, 39% of VSR experience was endovascular, whereas 32% of GSR experience was vascular access. The average VSR performed 2.7 times more major open VS operations than each GSR, but because of the 10-fold greater number of GSRs, VSRs performed only 20% of the total major operations available for VS training. Selective procedures, such as renal revascularization and open infrarenal abdominal aortic aneurysm repair decreased over time, while endovascular abdominal aortic aneurysm repair increased dramatically, accounting for 46% of aortic aneurysm repairs per VSR in 2003. The mean volume of total interventional procedures per VSR in 2003 was 152 diagnostic and 213 therapeutic. GSRs in programs with and without an associated VS program had very similar operative volumes.

Interventional procedures have increased VSR operative volume by 50% in recent years, with only a 12% decrease in major open operations. Nearly all VSRs currently meet RRC minimum requirements for open and endovascular procedures. Mean GSR operative volume has been stable, and far exceeds RRC minimum requirements. Based on the number of major open vascular operations available for training in 2003, the current number of VSR positions could be increased by 50% if GSR operative volume was decreased by 15%. However, increased interventional volume would also be required, for which there is competition with other specialties.