Trends in orthopaedic surgery resident case volume and the impact of COVID-19 on resident education.

Publication date: Jan 01, 2024

COVID-19 had numerous objective and subjective effects on resident physician education. We intended to examine objective changes in orthopedic education that occurred during the COVID pandemic and other trends from 2018 to 2022 by analyzing surgical case logs from Accreditation Counsel for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) approved American orthopedics programs. We hypothesized that surgical case load during the COVID pandemic would remain similar to pre-pandemic levels and case logs would show a general upward trend. We analyzed 3146 resident case-logs from the ACGME national case-log report from academic years (AY) 2018-2022. Surgical cases were classified by their Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes and grouped by anatomical location (shoulder, hand, etc. ). From AY 18-19 to “peak pandemic” AY 19-20, resident caseloads either had no change or increased in every orthopedic discipline with few exceptions. Residents performed fewer shoulder (p < 0. 0001), wrist (p = 0. 0023), knee (p < 0. 0001) and leg/ankle (p = .0019) arthroscopies in AY 19-20 than AY 18-19. Hip arthroscopy was notably unchanged. Oncology, Spine, and Foot/Toes did not see any change from AY 18-19 to 21-22 while Microsurgeries decreased (p = .0061). There were substantial differences between high volume (90th percentile) residents, and low volume (10th percentile) residents. All other anatomic areas saw significant increases in caseload over those four academic years. COVID had numerous effects on the orthopedic residency experience, however, any decreases in operative load were small, and largely isolated to the 19-20 AY. Microscopic and arthroscopic surgeries decreased during peak pandemic AY 19-20 when elective surgeries experienced cancellations. This illustrates that these areas of orthopedic education may be supplemented outside of the operating room if similar circumstances arise in the future. Otherwise, resident surgical caseloads continue to rise and show no signs of slowing.

Concepts Keywords
American Arthroscopy
Graduate Caseloads
Pandemic COVID-19
Physician Education


Type Source Name
disease VO volume
disease MESH COVID-19
disease VO report

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