Purpose: This study aimed to evaluate the surgical outcomes and clinical safety of laparoscopic distal gastrectomy (LDG) when performed by trainee surgeons with little prior experience in performing open gastrectomy, under the guidance of trainer surgeons. Methods: From January 2008 until March 2015, 17 trainee surgeons and 5 trainer surgeons performed LDGs to treat 371 patients with clinical stage T1–T3 gastric cancer. Of these patients, 140 and 231 underwent LDG performed by trainee surgeons and trainer surgeons, respectively. We retrospectively analyzed the surgical outcomes of the two groups. Results: Trainee surgeons required significantly longer operation times than the trainer surgeons, with respective mean operation times of 262 and 223 min (p < 0.001). However, the mean blood loss volumes, average numbers of retrieved lymph nodes, postoperative complications, and postoperative hospital stay lengths did not differ significantly between LDGs performed by trainee surgeons and trainer surgeons. Conclusions: The study findings suggest that, under the guidance of trainer surgeons, trainee surgeons with little experience with open gastrectomy and even without prior experience with LDG can perform radical surgeries safely.
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