Purpose: First, to determine the percentage of members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) that use microsurgical techniques as part of their surgery practice, and second, to identify factors limiting their use of these techniques. Methods: A 34-item, anonymous, Web-based survey was sent to all active ASSH members. Twelve items concerned demographics and 22 items addressed prior microsurgical training, current use of these techniques, factors currently limiting their use of these techniques, and potential methods to address these limiting factors. Results: Responses were received from 561 of 1,238 of the ASSH members contacted (45% response rate). Most had residency training in orthopedics (N = 460, 82%) or plastic surgery (N = 79, 14%), followed by a hand fellowship in an orthopedic (N = 363, 62%) or combined program (N = 170, 30%). More than 54% (N = 304) practiced privately, 33% (N = 184) practiced in tertiary institutions, and the remainder practiced at regional centers. Of those responding, 505 (90%) stated that hand surgery constituted more than 50% of their practice, whereas for 527 (94%) respondents microsurgery comprised less than 25%. Most members (N = 398, 71%) accepted emergency patients, of which 223 (56%) at a referral center. Three hundred sixteen respondents (56%) performed replantations, of whom 196 (62%) performed fewer than 5 per year. Four hundred fifteen respondents (74%) observed a decrease in replantation attempts over the past decade. This was attributed to refinement of indications (N = 17, 83%), fewer patients with amputations (N = 116, 28%), and declining reimbursement (N = 344, 4%). Reasons for not personally performing replantations included busy elective schedules (N = 125, 51%), inadequate confidence in performing replantations (N = 96, 39%), and disappointment in results (N = 56, 23%). Thirty percent (N = 74) stated they would reconsider performing replantations if reimbursement was greater. Practice rates of examined microsurgical procedures ranged from 22% to 57%, although most had received microsurgical training. Despite rating their fellowship as excellent (N = 393, 70%) or good (N = 135, 24%), only 315 (56%) considered their present microsurgical skills to be above average. Many respondents believed that they would benefit from continuous training through continuing education courses. Conclusions: Educational, economic, and practical factors discourage the clinical application of microsurgical technique by hand surgeons. This unfavorable environment should be addressed by policy-making organizations and continuous surgical training. Type of study/level of evidence: Other/Survey.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine