A Critical Look Into Stapedotomy Learning Curve: Influence of Patient Characteristics and Different Criteria Defining Success

Andrea Lovato, Jeroen Kraak, Erik F. Hensen, Conrad F. Smit, Luciano Giacomelli, Cosimo de Filippis, Paul Merkus

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To evaluate stapedotomy learning curve with cumulative summation methodology using different success criteria (ie, air-bone gap [ABG] ≤10 dB, ABG ≤15 dB, restoration of interaural symmetry, or hearing threshold gain >20 dB), and to assess patient characteristics influencing or modifying the learning curve. Methods: Retrospective chart review of primary and revision stapedotomy cases performed by surgeon 1 (S1, n = 78) and surgeon 2 (S2, n = 85). Results: Using the classic criterion for a successful stapedotomy (ABG ≤10 dB), patients with preoperative ABG >34 dB were associated with unsuccessful procedures (S1 P =.02; S2 P =.07). Revision surgery was associated with unsuccessful outcomes (S1 P =.005; S2 P =.0012). Cumulative summation plots using different criteria did not show a linear trend of association between stapedotomy success and number of operations, but preoperative characteristics of the patients who underwent stapedotomy significantly influenced the plots. Cumulative summation plots showed an initial increasing tendency with improving results, but when ear surgeons got more skilled, they operated on more complex cases (ie, patients with higher preoperative ABG or revision stapedotomy) and they could not meet the success criteria. Conclusions: Cumulative summation plots do not seem useful to evaluate the stapedotomy learning curve, as they do not correctly deal with heterogeneous case series. The increasing complexity of the stapedotomy patients during the surgeons’ career impacts on the outcome of stapedotomy and confounds the evaluation of the growing skills of the surgeon. Stapedotomy audiological success rates are strongly influenced by the success criteria used.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEar, Nose and Throat Journal
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Sept 2019


  • air-bone gap gain
  • learning curve
  • otosclerosis
  • success criteria
  • treatment

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