Surgical innovations have improved patient safety over the past half century. This is especially true of a number of surgical interventions. These include sutures, knee replacements, and contact lenses. However, many of these innovations carry significant risks without proper assessment.
Identifying the benefits and risks associated with surgical innovations is important for the development and maintenance of good patient care. An evidence-based approach is essential for identifying beneficial innovations. In addition, surgical innovations need to be evaluated for their cost-effectiveness.
Innovative surgical procedures are often developed by surgeons using anatomical and pathophysiological principles. However, they still need to be refined to provide the best patient outcomes.
Innovations have the potential to improve patient safety, reduce morbidity and length of stay, and decrease costs. Surgeons should advocate for research funding to conduct cost-effectiveness studies of surgical innovations. Research funding agencies should also support the design of surgical registries, surgical databases, and reporting media.
Surgical innovators need to determine whether they want to present their work as research or as surgical practice. This decision is based on the level of risk involved and the external validity of the innovative surgical procedure.
Currently, there is no FDA regulatory framework for evaluating innovative surgical procedures. Nevertheless, a formal system of assessment is required to ensure patient safety. Surgical innovation is considered advanced when the learning curve has passed.
Surgical practice is resource intensive. It requires significant training and oversight to protect patients. A learning health care system can help guide the development of innovative surgical techniques.