Decline in surgeon volume after successful implementation of advanced laparoscopic surgery in gynecology: An undesired side effect?

Fokkedien H.M.P. Tummers, Jasmin Hoebink, Sara R.C. Driessen, Frank Willem Jansen, Andries R.H. Twijnstra*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction: The implementation of advanced minimally invasive surgical (MIS) techniques has broadened. An extensive body of literature shows that high hospital and surgeon volumes lead to better patient outcomes. However, no information is available regarding volume trends in the post-implementation phase of MIS. This study investigated these trends and poses suggestions to adjust these developments. This knowledge can provide guidance to optimize patient safe performance of new surgical techniques. Material and methods: A national retrospective cohort study in the Netherlands. The number of advanced laparoscopic (level 3 and 4) and robotic procedures and the number of gynecologists performing them were collected through a web-based questionnaire to determine hospital and gynecological surgeon volume. These volumes were compared with our previously collected data from 2012. Results: The response rate was 85%. Hospitals produced larger volumes for advanced laparoscopic and robotic procedures. However, still 63% of the hospitals perform low-volume level 4 laparoscopic procedures. Additionally, gynecological surgeon volumes appeared to decrease for level 3 procedures, as the group of gynecologists performing fewer than 20 procedures expanded (64% vs. 44% in 2012), with 15% of the gynecologists performing fewer than ten procedures. Despite an increase in surgeon volumes for level 4 laparoscopy and robotic surgery, volumes continued to be low, as still 49% of gynecologists performed fewer than 10 level 4 procedures per year and 41% performed fewer than 20 robotic procedures per year. Conclusions: The broad implementation of advanced MIS procedures resulted in an increasing number of these procedures with increasing hospital volumes. However, as a side-effect, a disproportionate rise in number of gynecologists performing these procedures was observed. Therefore, surgeon volumes remain low and even decreased for some procedures. Centralization of complex procedures and training of specialized MIS gynecologists could improve surgeon volumes and therefore consequently enhance patient safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2082-2090
JournalActa Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • gynecological surgeon volume
  • hospital volume
  • hysterectomy
  • minimally invasive surgery
  • robotic surgery


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