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May 1997

Spectrum of General Surgery in Rural America

Author Affiliations

From the Department of General Surgery, Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center, La Crosse, Wis.

Arch Surg. 1997;132(5):494-497. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1997.01430290040005

Objectives:  To define the types of surgery performed by rural surgeons, to compare their experience to that of graduating US surgical residents and to document rural surgical mortality.

Design:  Prospective registry of consecutive cases recorded by 7 rural general surgeons working in one department of surgery from December 31, 1994, through March 30, 1996. Comparison with the 1995 Report C (Resident Operative Logs) of the Residency Review Committee. National survey of surgical residency programs regarding formal gynecology experience.

Setting:  Nine rural community hospitals in the Midwest.

Patients:  Patients undergoing surgery in 9 cities with populations of fewer than 10 000.

Main Outcome Measures:  Type of surgery and postoperative (30-day) mortality.

Results:  Two thousand four hundred twenty procedures were performed by 7 surgeons practicing in 9 cities with populations of 1500 to 8000. There were 6 (0.25%) postoperative deaths. Case types are as follows: endoscopy, 686 (28.3%); gynecology, 498 (20.6%); hernia, 241 (10%); colorectal, 194 (8%); biliary, 183 (7.6%); cesarean sections, 130 (5.4%); breast, 129 (5.3%); orthopedic, 115 (4.8%); carpal tunnel, 63 (2.6%); otolaryngology, 35 (1.4%); and endocrine, 1(0.4%); for a total of 2420 (100%). Report C indicated 1995 graduating chief residents averaged 8 obstetric and and gynecologic and 5.3 orthopedic cases during their residency. Of 204 surgical residency programs surveyed, 106 (52%) offered no obstetrics and gynecology rotation.

Conclusions:  A large volume of surgery was performed with low mortality by 7 rural general surgeons. The operative experience of 1995 residency graduates differed from our rural surgeons. We recommend a rural surgical track in selected training programs to prepare graduates better for rural practice. Senior level rotations in endoscopic, gynecologic, obstetric, and orthopedic surgery and mentorship with rural surgeons would be optimal.Arch Surg. 1997;132:494-497

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