The effect of junior residents on surgical quality: A study of surgical outcomes in breast surgery

Brenda Aguilar, Fariha Sheikh, Barbara Pockaj, Nabil Wasif, Richard Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Patients are often concerned about the participation of junior trainees in their operative treatment. Breast-conserving therapy (BCT) for nonpalpable breast lesions requires the use of localization devices and carries a significant risk for positive margins of excision. It was therefore hypothesized that the participation of junior residents in BCT operations for nonpalpable breast lesions could result in an increased rate of positive margins of excision. Methods: Retrospective analysis of a prospective database of all patients with nonpalpable tumors who underwent BCT from August 1999 to August 2009 was performed. Patient and tumor characteristics and factors involved in resection were analyzed. A <2-mm margin of normal breast tissue beyond tumor was considered an adequate margin. Chi-square analysis and Student's t test were performed to determine relationships between independent variables and margin status. Results: Of 308 BCT procedures for nonpalpable tumors, 241 (78%) were performed by attending surgeons and junior residents (group 1) and 67 (22%) by attending surgeons without resident assistance (group 2). The operations for group 1 took significantly longer than the operations for group 2 (mean, 130 vs 116 min, P =.006). Intraoperative reexcision of margins was performed for 37% of group 1 patients and 31% of group 2 patients (P =.249), and reoperation for inadequate margins was performed in 11% of group 1 patients and 13% of group 2 patients (P =.361). Conclusions: Junior resident participation in BCT procedures was not associated with higher rates of inadequate margins of excision. Patients can be reassured that junior resident involvement in their BCT operations is safe and effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)654-658
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Breast cancer
  • Outcome and trainees
  • Quality
  • Reexcision and breast cancer
  • Residents
  • Surgical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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