Learning Curves in Urolithiasis Surgery: A Systematic Review

Kate Quirke, Abdullatif Aydin, Oliver Brunckhorst, Matthew Bultitude, M Shamim Khan, Prokar Dasgupta, Kemal Sarica, Kamran Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Procedures for urolithiasis are a core part of the development for the urologist in training. Understanding the learning curve of the procedures is important, allowing for planning in the training and assessment of trainees. The aim of this study was to systematically review the literature pertaining to learning curves in urolithiasis surgery.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The review was registered on the PROSPERO database and conducted in keeping with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analysis statement. Embase, MEDLINE, and PsycINFO were systematically searched from inception to January 2018, with a reference review conducted. All empirical studies on learning curves in urolithiasis surgery were included irrespective of procedure. Articles describing pediatric surgery, nontechnical skills in surgery, or those not written in English were excluded.

RESULTS: Of 390 articles identified from screening, a final 18 studies were included. Fourteen studies identified the learning curve in percutaneous nephrolithotomy. These studies identified a learning curve of between 30 and 60 cases for both operative time (OT) and complication rates. Four articles focused on flexible ureteroscopy (FURS); the learning curve for FURS has been outlined as 60 cases for OT and 56 cases for fragmentation efficacy.

CONCLUSIONS: The complexities of determining learning curves are extensive; studies use different parameters to measure outcomes and observe skill acquisition rates of surgeons with differing prior experience. Evidence in this article can guide trainee urologists with regard to the expected rate of progress. Multi-operator multicenter research utilizing standard outcome measures should be conducted to establish definitive learning curves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1008-1020
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Endourology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


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