Objective Outcomes from carotid artery stenting (CAS) are related to experience and technical expertise of the operator. Simulation of CAS may enhance clinical proficiency. We interrogated the impact of endovascular simulation of CAS procedures in operators who are at various stages of training. Methods Twelve trainees (students [n = 4]; junior surgery residents, postgraduate year [PGY] 1-3 [n = 4]; and senior surgery residents or fellows, PGY 4-7 [n = 4]) were apprised of characteristics of an endovascular simulator and CAS procedures. This was followed by four independent sessions that were assessed for objective measures including procedure and fluoroscopy times and contrast agent use. A qualitative analysis grading steps of CAS by two observers using a Likert scale was performed. One-way analysis of variance and paired t-tests were employed for data analysis. Results For all participants (n = 12), procedure times (mean, 920 ± 279 seconds for the first session vs 454 ± 156 seconds for the fourth session; P <.01; confidence interval [CI], 315-621) and fluoroscopy cumulative times (mean, 421 ± 230 seconds for the first session vs 222 ± 102 seconds for the fourth session; P <.01; CI, 78-285) decreased with progression of cases. Students and PGY 1-3 residents decreased their procedure times significantly in comparison of initial and final sessions (P <.05 and P <.01, respectively). For all groups, fluoroscopy cumulative times were reduced, and this decrement was significant in the PGY 1-3 cohort (mean, 444 ± 8 seconds for the first session vs 265 ± 51 seconds for the fourth session; P <.01; CI, 81-276). Initial CAS procedure times were significantly different between groups (P <.05), but this was observed to resolve by the final case at study completion. Qualitatively, the Likert scores of students and PGY 1-3 residents significantly improved with case repetition, specifically in the following steps: (1) cannulation of common carotid artery and (2) sizing and deployment of embolic protection device. Senior operators (PGY 4-7) demonstrated consistently better performance overall with minimal change in scoring with case repetition. Conclusions Practice leads to improvements in endovascular simulator procedure and fluoroscopy times, especially for more novice trainees. Initial operator performance gaps can be approximated with a few sessions to expected proficiency. Incorporation of endovascular simulators in residency training may assist in shortening the learning curve in rarer endovascular procedures.
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