Laparoscopic surgery has been increasing in popularity in recent years. In 2004, the Japan Society for Endoscopic Surgery developed its Endoscopic Surgical Skill Qualification System (ESSQS) to assess surgeons. To earn the ESSQS accreditation, applicants must submit an unedited operative video in which they perform either a distal gastrectomy or pylorus-preserving gastrectomy with lymph node dissection for gastric cancer. The videos are assessed by two separate judges based on detailed criteria for common and procedure-specific technical-grade slips. Common criteria from all fields of gastrointestinal and general surgery are used to evaluate the basic laparoscopic surgical skills and autonomy of the operator. The target organ determines the procedure-specific criteria are set to assess whether or not adequate oncological clearance has been achieved. Between 2004 and 2009, 154 (44.6%) out of 345 applicant surgeons assessed under the ESSQS for gastric surgery have been accredited. Interrater agreement was acceptable and ranged between 0.21 and 0.59. The ESSQS system may facilitate improvement in surgical technique and the standardization of laparoscopic surgery in Japan.
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