Current status of Canadian vascular surgery training: A survey of program directors

Thomas L. Forbes, Kenneth A. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: With the aging of the North American population and therefore the need for more modern vascular surgeons familiar with open operations and less invasive diagnostic and therapeutic regimens, we wished to obtain suggestions and recommendations that would allow our training programs to more adequately fulfil these needs. Our objectives were to assess recent trends in Canadian vascular surgery training with respect to the trainee's operative and nonoperative experience. Methods: We mailed a survey to the directors of the 8 Canadian vascular surgery training programs, to ascertain the yearly operative volumes of their 3 most recent trainees with respect to 6 index operations: carotid endarterectomy (CEA), types I-IV thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm (TAA) repair, elective open infrarenal aortic aneurysm (eAAA) repair, ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (rAAA) repair, endovascular abdominal aortic aneurysm repair (EVAR) and lower extremity arterial bypass (LEB). Additionally, information pertaining to nonvascular surgery rotations and the final practice location and type of practice for each trainee was requested. Results: Seven (88%) of 8 program directors completed the survey. Between 1999 and 2002, vascular surgery trainees in Canadian training programs were exposed to the following yearly clinical volumes (expressed as mean [and standard deviation]): CEA 55.4 (33.9), TAA 6.2 (3.8), eAAA 63.8 (30.0), rAAA 13.5 (9.4), EVAR 14.9 (9.6) and LEB 74.5 (34.5). The range of yearly clinical volumes were: CEA 21-124, TAA 1-18, eAAA 30-133, rAAA 3-45, EVAR 0-34 and LEB 20-143. Nonvascular surgery rotations included: endovascular therapy, interventional radiology, noninvasive diagnostics and research. Forty-five (80.4%) of 56 recent graduates practise only vascular surgery. Most (73.2%) of our recent trainees have remained in Canada, with 41.1% settling in the province in which they trained. Conclusions: Canadian vascular surgery training programs provide more than sufficient operative experience for their trainees. Although some programs have been successful at providing training in endovascular therapies, the integration of such experience in our training programs continues to be a challenge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-318
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes


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