Decreased Case Volumes for Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery Fellows During the Early Stages of the Coronavirus-19 Pandemic Original Research
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Background: In the early months of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, elective procedures were suspended to reallocate resources, notably impacting one-year surgical fellowship programs. The purpose of this study is to compare the case volume of pediatric orthopaedic surgery fellows during the pandemic’s peak year to the years before and after.
Materials and Methods: Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) case log reports of key procedures in pediatric orthopaedic surgery were compared between the fellowship classes of 2018-2019 (pre-pandemic), 2019-2020 (peak pandemic), and 2020-2021 (post-peak pandemic). Both overall case volume and individual key procedures were analyzed for significant differences between each of the three class years.
Results: There was a significant decrease (-43.7 cases) in overall number of key procedures completed by the fellowship class of 2020 compared to 2019 (p=0.014), with similar significant decreases in various individual key procedures (foot and ankle deformity, limb deformity, and soft tissue: transfer, lengthening, and release). In the subsequent year, there was a significant increase (+98.6 cases) in the average case volume for the class of 2021 (p<0.001), with significant increases in procedures for foot and ankle deformity, clubfoot, limb deformity, hip, and soft tissue: transfer, lengthening, and release. Additionally, the rebound in overall case volume for the class of 2021 surpassed the pre-pandemic caseload completed by the class of 2019 (p=0.008).
Conclusion: During the peak of the pandemic when elective cases were suspended, pediatric orthopaedic surgery fellows logged less surgical cases compared to the pre-pandemic class of 2019. While the case volume rebounded in the subsequent year, further research is needed to quantify the overall impact of the decreased caseload for the pediatric orthopaedic fellowship class of 2020.