Developing skills for thoracic aortic surgery with hypothermic circulatory arrest

Canadian Thoracic Aortic Collaborative Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objectives: To examine the performance curves of 8 early-career aortic surgeons with the use of hypothermic circulatory arrest (HCA) and to analyze the impact of the learning curve on perioperative outcomes. Methods: A total of 1025 consecutive patients who underwent aortic reconstruction with HCA between 2002 and 2017 were analyzed for mortality and 5 other complications (stroke, reoperation for bleeding, dialysis, prolonged ventilation, and sternal wound complications), subdivided into 3 consecutive time periods. This cohort represents the complete inaugural experience of 8 Canadian academic aortic surgeons. A risk-adjusted cumulative sum analysis was used to evaluate the performance curve with respect to predetermined 80% alert and 95% alarm boundary lines. Results: Mean age was 62 ± 13 years, 71% of patients were male, and 24% presented nonelectively. Hemiarch repair was performed in 80% and total arch replacement in 20%. There was a reduction in the incidence of the primary composite outcome over time (P1: 26%, P2: 23%, and P3: 16%; P =.010). Overall in-hospital mortality was 5% and remained stable throughout the 3 periods. Rates of stroke were lower in the late period (P1: 4%, P2: 6%, and P3: 2%; P =.035). Risk-adjusted cumulative sum analysis demonstrated that all surgeons remained within the 95% reassurance boundary throughout their experience, with 6 surgeons performing as expected and 2 performing better than expected. Conclusions: Early-career surgeons can safely perform operations with HCA from the initiation of their practice. The cumulative sum analysis method is valuable for monitoring competence in aortic surgery and could prove useful in structuring training programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1360-1368.e8
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • circulatory arrest
  • cumulative sum analysis
  • performance curve


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