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Impact of refresher training on the outcomes of trachomatous trichiasis surgery.

BACKGROUND/AIMS: Trachomatous trichiasis (TT) is a severe consequence of chronic inflammation/conjunctival scarring resulting from trachoma, the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide. Our prospective cohort study evaluated the effectiveness of refresher training (RT) for experienced surgeons (1-22 years) on the outcomes of upper lid (UL) TT surgery in rural Ethiopia.

METHODS: Patients undergoing UL TT surgery in at least one eye by a participating surgeon were included. Patients were split into two cohorts: patients enrolled prior to (C1) and after (C2) RT. RT consisted of a 1-week programme with practice on a HEAD START mannequin and supportive supervision in live surgery by expert trainers. Data were collected at preoperative enrolment, and at 6-month and 12-month follow-up visits. The primary outcome was development of postoperative TT (PTT). A series of multivariate generalised estimating equations were fit to model PTT involving potential covariates of interest.

RESULTS: A total of 261 eyes contributed by 173 patients were studied between 2017 and 2019. By 1-year postoperatively, 37/128 eyes (28.9%) in C1 and 22/133 eyes (16.5%) in C2 had developed PTT (p=0.03). Other than surgeon RT participation, no factors studied were associated with differences in PTT.

CONCLUSION: Our results indicate a significant reduction in the risk of PTT after experienced surgeons' participation in RT as compared with eyes receiving surgery before RT. This observation suggests a significant potential benefit of the RT with HEAD START mannequin practice and supportive supervision during surgery, and suggests RT may be a valuable strategy to improve surgical outcomes.

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