Are Esophagectomy Board Requirements Achievable? A Multi-Institutional Analysis

Thoracic Education Cooperative Group (TECoG)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Duty-hour restrictions have implications on trainee operative exposure necessary to meet minimum case-volume requirements. We utilized a previously validated simulation model to evaluate the effect of program volume, trainee numbers and complement, and rotation schedule on the probability of achieving adequate esophagectomy case numbers for cardiothoracic surgery trainees. A ProModel simulator centered on probabilistic distributions of operative cases was utilized. Historical data from five 2-year cardiothoracic surgery training programs were obtained from 2016-2018 and used as inputs to the simulator that generated 10,000 “trainee 2-year periods” per program. Programs varied in annual average esophagectomy volume (12–91 per year), with 2–4 trainees graduating over a 2-year training period. If esophagectomy cases were distributed solely based on scheduling and institutional volume, only 60% of evaluated programs could adequately expose all trainees in esophagectomy to meet case requirements. The 3 programs with adequate esophagectomy volumes had averaged 3.3 times (range 3.0–3.6) the minimum number of board-required cases for their programs’ trainees. The ability of programs to provide trainees with adequate esophagectomy volume is challenging based on institutional volume and scheduling. Through simulation, we demonstrate that programs need >2 times the expected minimum number of esophagectomies to ensure that >90% of trainees meet case-volume requirements. Programs may consider strategies such as allowing trainees to select cases based on personal need, train fewer fellows, or enable trainees to seek subspecialty exposure externally to achieve minimum esophagectomy case-load requirements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1158-1168
Number of pages11
JournalSeminars in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Cardiothoracic surgery training
  • Education
  • Esophagectomy case volumes
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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