Choosing your chopper

Having surgery is a difficult life event on many levels. It is a less than joyous time in life when you find yourself seated across the table from someone who with calm certitude tells you that they are prepared to open you up and for the privilege you can pay them substantial amounts of money. Aside from the socially awkward prospect of having various parts of your viscera on display for a room of green-gowned acquaintances, there is the powerlessness of the moment; you have a problem and to fix it you need to go “bowels out” and have the offending item nipped, chopped, or modified. While you might not have a choice as to whether a particular piece of surgery needs to be done, at least new research has given you some criteria on who you should choose to do it.

It is a generally accepted truism that experts tend to reach their peak of performance after ten years of experience in their field. However, there has been little research into at what age surgeons reach their peak, until now.

To examine this researchers from the University of Lyon, France assessed more than 3500 thyroidectomies (removal of the thyroid gland) performed by surgeons with an average ten years experience. The study took place over a twelve month period and evaluated the surgery by evaluating complications 48 hours after surgery and again anywhere from six months to twelve months later.

The results showed that complications were more likely when the surgeon was inexperienced or had been in practice for more than twenty years. Overall, surgeons who had between five and twenty years experience and were aged 35 to 50 years had better outcomes.

Like all other people, this indicates that surgeons do better with experience but are unable to maintain top performance indefinitely.

It all adds up to the fact that before you agree to allow your surgeon to wield the knife in exchange for wads of cash, you might want to see their birth certificate first.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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