Objective: To evaluate an integrated fellowship in vascular surgery and interventional radiology initiated to train vascular surgeons in endovascular techniques and to train radiology fellows in clinical aspects of vascular diseases. Summary Background Data: The rapid evolution of endovascular techniques for the treatment of vascular diseases requires that vascular surgeons develop proficiency in these techniques and that interventional radiologists develop proficiency in the clinical evaluation and management of patients who are best treated with endovascular techniques. In response to this need the authors initiated an integrated fellowship in vascular surgery and interventional radiology and now report their interim results. Methods: Since 1999 vascular fellows and radiology fellows performed an identical year-long fellowship in interventional radiology. During the fellowship, vascular surgery and radiology fellows perform both vascular and nonvascular interventional procedures. Both vascular surgery and radiology-based fellows spend one quarter of the year on the vascular service performing endovascular aortic aneurysm repairs and acquiring clinical experience in the vascular surgery inpatient and outpatient services. Vascular surgery fellows then complete an additional year-long fellowship in vascular surgery. To evaluate the type and number of interventional radiology procedures, the authors analyzed records of cases performed by all interventional radiology and vascular surgery fellows from a prospectively maintained database. The attitudes of vascular surgery and interventional radiology faculty and fellows toward the integrated fellowship were surveyed using a formal questionnaire. Results: During the fellowship each fellow performed an average of 1,201 procedures, including 808 vascular procedures (236 diagnostic angiograms, 70 arterial interventions, 59 diagnostic venograms, 475 venous interventions, and 43 hemodialysis graft interventions) and 393 nonvascular procedures. On average fellows performed 20 endovascular aortic aneurysm repairs per year. There was no significant difference between the vascular surgery and radiology fellows in either the spectrum or number of cases performed. Eighty-eight percent (23/26) of the questionnaires were completed and returned. Both interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons strongly supported the integrated fellowship model and favored continuation of the integrated program. Vascular surgery and interventional radiology faculty members wanted additional training in clinical vascular surgery for the radiology-based fellows. With the exception of the radiology fellows there was uniform agreement that vascular surgery fellows benefit from training in nonvascular aspects of interventional radiology. Conclusions: Integration of vascular surgery and interventional radiology fellowships is feasible and is mutually beneficial to both disciplines. Furthermore, the integrated fellowship provides exceptional training for vascular surgery and interventional radiology fellows in all catheter-based techniques that far exceeds the minimum requirements for credentialing suggested by various professional societies. There is a clear need for cooperation and active involvement on the parts of the American Board of Radiology and the American Board of Surgery and its Vascular Board to create hybrid training programs that meet mutually agreed-on criteria that document sufficient acquisition of both the cognitive and technical skills required to manage patients undergoing endovascular procedures safely and effectively.
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