Background: We hypothesized that general thoracic surgeons (GTS) predominantly perform complex noncardiac thoracic surgery in academic hospitals compared with cardiac surgeons (CS), general surgeons, and surgical oncologists. Methods: Fiscal year 2007-2008 to 2009-2010 coding and work relative value unit data from the University Health System Consortium and Association of American Medical Colleges Faculty Practice Solutions Center database, which includes 86 academic institutions, was analyzed. Procedural groups for pneumonectomy, other pulmonary resection (including lobectomy, bilobectomy, segmentectomy, sleeve lobectomy, and video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery lobectomy-segmentectomy), and esophagectomy were evaluated. Results: Of the 1,989,055.3 total work relative value units generated for complex noncardiac thoracic surgical procedures during the study period, 77.5% were generated by GTS, compared with 9.9% by CS, 8.9% by general surgeons, and 3.7% by surgical oncologists (p < 0.001). General thoracic surgeons averaged 2.1 pneumonectomies, 51.1 other pulmonary resections, and 12.2 esophagectomies per year compared with 2.1 pneumonectomies, 9.4 other pulmonary resections, and less than 1 esophagectomy per year for CS. General surgeons and surgical oncologists averaged no more than 1.6 cases per year for all categories (all p < 0.001, except for pneumonectomy, in which GTS versus CS was not significantly different). To determine the use of parenchymal-sparing operations, we looked at the ratio of sleeve lobectomy to pneumonectomy and found higher usage of parenchymal-sparing techniques by GTS, relative to pneumonectomy, compared with all other groups (p < 0.001). General thoracic surgeons averaged 16.0 video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery lobectomies per year compared with approximately 1 per year for all other groups (p < 0.001). General thoracic surgeons had a 47.1% increase in video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery lobectomies per year compared with 27.4% for CS. Conclusions: In academic hospitals, noncardiac thoracic surgery is performed mostly by GTS, supporting academic GTS as a distinct specialty. These results may help determine hospital referral and credentialing policies, and plan general and cardiothoracic surgery residency curriculum.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine