Article Abstract

Describing the learning curve for bulbar urethroplasty

Authors: Marco Spilotros, Sachin Malde, Tamsin J. Greenwell


Background: Learning curves have been described for a number of urological procedures including radical prostatectomy and laparoscopic nephrectomy but rarely for urethroplasty. We describe the learning curve for bulbar urethroplasty in a single surgeon series.
Methods: A retrospective case note review was performed of 91 consecutive men median age 32 years (range, 15–66 years) having bulbar urethroplasty performed by a single surgeon. Data was collected on type of urethroplasty, restricture rate (as defined by urethrogram and/or flow rate) and duration of follow up. The restricture rates were compared by quartiles and statistical analysis was by χ2 between the first and fourth quartiles.
Results: The 91 men had 42 dorsal onlay buccal mucosal graft (Dorsal BMG), 20 BMG augmented bulbobulbar anastomotic (Augmented Rooftop) and 29 bulbobulbar anastomotic (BBA) urethroplasties performed. Median follow up was 39 months for the first quartile, 42 months for the second, 36 months for the third, and 35 months for the fourth. The restricture rate was 17% in the first quartile, 8.7% in the second and third quartiles and 4.5% in the fourth quartile. There were no restrictures noted after 24 months. There were 4 restrictures in the first quartile and 1 restricture in the fourth quartile (χ2 P<0.01).
Conclusions: There is a statistically and clinically significant difference in restricture rates between first and fourth quartiles with rates falling from 17% to 4.5%. There is a learning curve for bulbar urethroplasty with a reduced restricture rate each quartile and it may take as many as 90 cases to reach optimum restricture rates.