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Surgical outcomes among focused versus diversified cataract surgeons


Purpose — Narrowly focused surgical practice has become increasingly common in ophthalmology and may have an effect on surgical outcomes. Previous research evaluating the influence of surgical focus on cataract surgical outcomes has been lacking. This study aimed to evaluate whether surgeons' exclusive surgical focus on cataract surgery influences the risk of cataract surgical adverse events.

Design — Population-based cohort study.

Participants — All patients 66 years of age or older undergoing cataract surgery in Ontario, Canada, between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2013.

Methods — Outcomes of isolated cataract surgery performed by exclusive cataract surgeons (no other types of surgery performed), moderately diversified cataract surgeons (1%-50% noncataract procedures), and highly diversified cataract surgeons (>50% noncataract procedures) were evaluated using linked healthcare databases and controlling for patient-, surgeon-, and institution-level covariates. Surgeon-level covariates included both surgeon experience and surgical volume.

Main Outcome Measures — Composite outcome incorporating 4 adverse events: posterior capsule rupture, dropped lens fragments, retinal detachment, and suspected endophthalmitis.

Results — The study included 1 101 864 cataract operations. Patients had a median age of 76 years, and 60.2% were female. Patients treated by the 3 groups of surgeons were similar at baseline. Adverse events occurred in 0.73%, 0.78%, and 2.31% of cases performed by exclusive cataract surgeons, moderately diversified surgeons, and highly diversified surgeons, respectively. The risk of cataract surgical adverse events for patients operated on by moderately diversified surgeons was not different than for patients operated on by exclusive cataract surgeons (odds ratio [OR], 1.08; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.00-1.18). Patients operated on by highly diversified surgeons had a higher risk of adverse events than patients operated on by exclusive cataract surgeons (OR, 1.52; 95% CI, 1.09-2.14). This resulted in an absolute risk difference of 0.016 (95% CI, 0.012-0.020) and a number needed to harm of 64 (95% CI, 50-87).

Conclusions — Exclusive surgical focus did not affect the safety of cataract surgery when compared with moderate levels of surgical diversification. The risk of cataract surgical adverse events was higher among surgeons whose practice was dedicated mainly to noncataract surgery.



Campbell RJ, El-Defrawy SR, Gill SS, Whitehead M, Campbell ELP, Hooper PL, Bell CM, Ten Hove MW. Ophthalmology. 2021; 128(6):827-34. Epub 2021 Feb 23.

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