Fundamentals of Anorectal Technical Skills: A Concise Surgical Skills Course

Walter B. Kucera, Matthew D. Nealeigh, Christopher Dyke, E. Matthew Ritter, Anthony R. Artino, Steven J. Durning, W. Brian Sweeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction Anorectal diseases, among the most common surgical conditions, are underrepresented in medical training. The Fundamentals of Anorectal Technical Skills course was developed to provide cost-effective formal training in diagnosis of common anorectal conditions and in commonly performed anorectal procedures using the theories of deliberative practice and perceptual and adaptive learning. Materials and Methods First- through third-year general surgery and internal medicine residents and third- and fourth-year medical students participated in a course consisting of didactic instruction and hands on skills stations. The course covered common anorectal conditions, including internal and external hemorrhoids, fissures, condylomata, abscesses, fistula-in-ano, rectal prolapse, pilonidal disease, pruritis ani, and anal and rectal cancer, as well as common procedures such as anoscopy, excision of thrombosed external hemorrhoids, banding of internal hemorrhoids, rigid proctoscopy, incision and drainage of an abscess, administration of local anesthesia, and reduction of rectal prolapse. Before the course, participants completed a questionnaire consisting of demographics; previous anorectal experience, as measured by procedural case volume; confidence diagnosing and treating anorectal conditions; and a clinical knowledge multiple-choice quiz. Immediately following the course, participants took an additional survey reassessing their confidence and testing their clinical knowledge. This study was granted an educational exception by the Institutional Review Board at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Results Forty-three learners participated in this course. Forty-six percent of participants had not participated in any anorectal cases, 26% had participated in 1 to 5 cases, 17% had participated in 6 to 10 cases, 6% had been involved with 11 to15 cases, and 6% had been involved with more than 15 cases. For learners who had no prior experience, 1 to 5 prior cases, or 6 to 10 cases, there were statistically and educationally significant increases in confidence for all diagnoses and procedures. Additionally, there were statistically and educationally significant increases between pre-course and post-course quiz scores for learners who had no prior experience (7.8 ± 2.0 vs. 11.8 ± 2.5, P < 0.01, Cohen’s d = 1.8) and for those who had only participated in 1 to 5 cases (11.0 ± 3.7 vs. 14.2 ± 2.0, P = 0.04, Cohen’s d = 1.1). The changes in quiz scores for learners who previously had been involved with six or more cases were not statistically significant. Conclusion This course provides a cost-effective training that significantly boosts learners’ confidence in diagnosis of common anorectal procedures and confidence in performance of common anorectal procedures, in addition to improving objectively measured anorectal clinical knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1794-E1802
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


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