Addressing the Gender Gap in Orthopaedics

Female Orthos for OBuzzOrthoBuzz occasionally receives posts from guest bloggers. This guest post comes from Megan Conti Mica, MD, in response to the 2018 Medscape Orthopaedist Compensation Report.

In a recently published Medscape survey looking at orthopaedic compensation,  orthopods were the second-highest paid specialists overall. Despite that, only 51% of orthopaedist respondents to the Medscape survey felt they were fairly compensated. My question to you is: How fairly compensated would orthopods feel if that second-highest salary was decreased by $150,000 annually without reason?

While the reported overall wage gap between female and male physicians is more than $50,000 annually1, the Medscape survey found that the gender wage difference for orthopaedic surgeons was $143,000 annually—adding injury to insult. That annual gap would amount to $4 million of lost wages for women over a 30-year career as an orthopaedic surgeon.

Why does medicine in general and orthopaedics in particular have a gender gap?  Is it because male surgeons have better outcomes than female surgeons?  Not according to a 2017 study that found that patients of female surgeons experienced lower death rates, fewer complications, and fewer 30-day readmissions to the hospital, compared with patients of male surgeons.2 While I do not believe that gender alone makes one a better surgeon, I do believe that gender diversity within our field is imperative.

What is more disheartening is it seems no one with the power to make change is doing anything to close the gap. In 2009, only 4% of the AAOS fellows were female. Honestly, I cannot blame women for not trying to join the “boys club.”  If someone told you that you would be a distinct minority in your profession, make less, and have to work harder, most rational human beings would find a different career.  If we want more women in orthopaedics, we need to understand that the gender wage gap is just the surface of a bigger issue.

I challenge everyone (men and women) to do better. Help your female partners. Be more attentive and mentor female surgeons. Support women when they speak up, and champion for them when they don’t. The attributes that make a great orthopaedic surgeon—love of and dedication to this great specialty—are gender-neutral.

Megan Conti Mica, MD is a hand and upper-extremity surgeon at the University of Chicago Medical Center and a member of the JBJS Social Media Advisory Board.

References

  1. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(9):1294-1304. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.3284
  2. BMJ 2017;359:j4366, Published 10 October 2017. doi: 10.1136/bmj.j4366

JBJS 100: ACL Grafts and Wrist Instability

JBJS 100Under one name or another, The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery has published quality orthopaedic content spanning three centuries. In 1919, our publication was called the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery, and the first volume of that journal was Volume 1 of what we know today as JBJS.

Thus, the 24 issues we turn out in 2018 will constitute our 100th volume. To help celebrate this milestone, throughout the year we will be spotlighting 100 of the most influential JBJS articles on OrthoBuzz, making the original content openly accessible for a limited time.

Unlike the scientific rigor of Journal content, the selection of this list was not entirely scientific. About half we picked from “JBJS Classics,” which were chosen previously by current and past JBJS Editors-in-Chief and Deputy Editors. We also selected JBJS articles that have been cited more than 1,000 times in other publications, according to Google Scholar search results. Finally, we considered “activity” on the Web of Science and The Journal’s websites.

We hope you enjoy and benefit from reading these groundbreaking articles from JBJS, as we mark our 100th volume. Here are two more:

Biomechanical Analysis of Human Ligament Grafts Used in Knee-Ligament Repairs and Reconstructions
F R Noyes, D L Butler, E S Grood, R F Zernicke, M S Hefzy: JBJS, 1984 March; 66 (3): 344
This article set the stage for critically analyzing ACL graft choices based on mechanical properties. Several of the grafts these authors studied had poor strength and are no longer used. Subsequent studies now suggest that several grafts are stronger and stiffer than the native ACL, including bone-patellar tendon-bone grafts. While many other aspects of ACL reconstruction continue to be debated, graft strength and stiffness remain a key consideration.

Traumatic Instability of the Wrist
R L Linscheid, J H Dobyns, J W Beabout, R S Bryan: JBJS, 1972 December; 54 (8): 1612
At a time when orthopaedists were focused primarily on osseous anatomy of the wrist, this article emphasized the importance of assessing carpal alignment and realizing the consequences of disrupted carpal ligaments. Most of the parameters for radiographic assessment of carpal alignment in the article are still relevant today.

A Video Approach to Improving Outcomes in Digit Replantation

Anastomosis Refill for OBuzzArterial and venous reperfusion problems are common causes of failure in digit replantation, so excellent vascular anastomotic technique is crucial during these operations. One way to assess the patency of vascular anastomoses intraoperatively is to estimate refilling velocity with the naked eye. An even better way is described by Zhu et al. in the May 2, 2018 edition of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

The authors divided their study into two phases. During phase I, they found that a slower refilling velocity ratio (RVR) in 103 replanted digits, calculated with the aid of videos recorded at 1,000 frames per second, was associated with replantation failure. In phase II, the authors applied RVR goals established from phase I to another 79 replanted digits to determine whether the additional objective guidance increased the replantation survival rate compared with historical controls.

Based on phase I results, Zhu et al. set the arterial RVR goal to 0.4 and the venous RVR sum goal to 1.0. Using those goals for guidance, the authors found that the phase II success rate (96%) was significantly higher than that among historical controls (87%). In several phase I cases, intraoperative observations of specialists considered anastomoses to be acceptable, but the high-speed video data revealed that improvements were required.

One downside to obtaining this objective video data about anastomotic quality is that it adds 10 to 15 minutes to operative time. Consequently, the authors cite the need for a “well-designed, randomized, double-blinded clinical trial…to provide stronger evidence of this assessment technique.”

Horseshoes and Total Knee Arthroplasty

TKA Alignment for OBuzzOrthoBuzz occasionally receives posts from guest bloggers. This guest post comes from Matthew Herring, MD, in response to a recent JBJS article.

The old adage that “close only counts in horseshoes” may also apply to total knee arthroplasty (TKA). Much attention has been paid to coronal alignment during TKA based on conventional wisdom that prosthetic durability and patient function are strongly dependent on that parameter. To re-check that hypothesis, in the March 21, 2018 issue of JBJS, Abdel et al. evaluated the influence of coronal plane alignment on implant survival by analyzing results from a large cohort of patients who underwent primary TKA 20 years ago.

In 2010, Abdel’s group reviewed a consecutive series of 398 primary cemented TKAs done between 1985 and 1990. Knees were divided into 2 groups based on their mechanical alignment as measured using a full-length hip-knee-ankle radiograph. Knees in the “aligned group” (n = 292) were defined as having alignment within 0° ± 3° of the mechanical axis, and knees in the “outlier group” (n = 106)  were defined as having alignment >3° in varus or valgus. Implant survival was evaluated based on the need for revision, and the specific indications for revisions were recorded.

In the current study, at 20 years of follow-up, the authors found revision rates that were not significantly different between the same 2 groups—19.5% in the mechanically aligned group and 15.1% in the outliers. Multivariate analysis controlling for patient age and BMI did not demonstrate any implant survivorship benefit for the mechanically well aligned group as compared to the outliers.

This study seems to call into question the dogma that a neutral mechanical axis protects against mechanical failure. The effort, time, and money spent on techniques and devices to improve coronal plane alignment by a few degrees (i.e., computer navigation, custom jigs, and robotics) may not translate into meaningful improvements in patient outcomes.

It is important to note that in this group’s 2010 study evaluating the same cohort, 66% of knees in the outlier group were only 4° shy of neutral and only 12% (13 knees) were >6° off. So, while we should still strive for neutral mechanical alignment, it seems that we may miss the neutral mark by a few degrees without harming our patients.

Matthew Herring, MD is a senior orthopaedic resident at the University of Minnesota and a member of the JBJS Social Media Advisory Board.

Scottish Hip Fracture Treatment Guidelines Improve Outcomes

Hip Fracture for OBuzzIt is easy, perhaps even fun (in a cynical way), to discredit clinical guidelines and suggested care pathways for certain orthopaedic diseases. They are often nuanced, may require a significant change to our practice that we find impractical, and may seem to offer little benefit over current practices. Why change when our patients do just fine with how we have always treated them? Well, as Farrow et al. clearly demonstrate in the May 2, 2018 edition of JBJS, we should follow these guidelines and patient care pathways in hip fracture patients ≥50 years old because patients have better outcomes when we do.

The authors found that increased adherence to the Scottish Standards of Care for Hip Fracture Patients (SSCHFP), implemented in Scotland in 2014,  led to a >3-fold decrease in patient mortality at 1 month and a 2-fold decrease in mortality at 4 months. High levels of adherence to the SSCHFP also led to shorter hospital stays and decreased odds of discharging patients to high-care settings, such as a skilled nursing facility. This cohort study of data collected from  >1,000 patients saw only 8% of the initial population lost to follow-up.

Just as importantly, when the authors ran a multiple regression analysis, they found that no single SSCHFP practice or patient variable was as important as following the total SSCHFP protocol. The authors thus conclude that “the impact of the standards as a whole is greater than the sum of the parts and highlights the importance of a multidisciplinary team approach…” In other words, following the protocol helped improve patient outcomes. Period.

Studies like this by Farrow et al. are important and impactful. Practice guidelines and care criteria are developed with careful attention to the evidence base, but we are just starting to see published data on their effect on outcomes. This makes them difficult to accept because we DO have data (at least anecdotal data) supporting our current practices. It is easier to stick to our known current methods than to adopt new ones, however subtle, that require change and have little accompanying outcomes data.  Implementing practice guidelines will always be challenging, but having data such as these showing the power of their effect should help make adoption easier.

Chad A. Krueger, MD
JBJS Deputy Editor for Social Media

Click here to read a press release about this study from the University of Aberdeen.

May 2018 Article Exchange with JOSPT

JOSPT_Article_Exchange_LogoIn 2015, JBJS launched an “article exchange” collaboration with the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) to support multidisciplinary integration, continuity of care, and excellent patient outcomes in orthopaedics and sports medicine.

During the month of May 2018, JBJS and OrthoBuzz readers will have open access to the JOSPT article titled “Quality of Life in Symptomatic Individuals After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction, With and Without Radiographic Knee Osteoarthritis.”

The authors conclude that diagnosing radiographic osteoarthritis in symptomatic individuals after ACL reconstruction may be valuable, because targeted strategies to facilitate participation in satisfying activities have the potential to improve quality of life in these patients.

Innovation + Persistence: A Crucial Combination

Ponseti-Method-Club-FootIn the 1970s and 80s, the debate regarding management of clubfoot deformity centered around the location of incisions and how aggressive to be with open releases of hindfoot joints. At that time, Prof. Ignacio Ponseti had been working on his conservative method of clubfoot correction for decades, but his technique was relegated to the sidelines and dismissed as being out of the main stream. Yet he persisted in carefully documenting his results, quietly perfecting his methods, and disseminating his technique by teaching other practitioners. Ever so slowly, the pediatric orthopaedic community migrated in his direction as the complications of the other aggressive surgical procedures, including stiff and painful feet, became apparent.

In the May 2, 2018 edition of The Journal,  Zionts et al. report medium-term results from their center with Ponseti’s method. This is a very important study because most of the previously published data regarding mid- to long-term outcomes had come from Dr. Ponseti’s medical center.

The authors found that all 101 patients in the study treated with the Ponseti method had fair to good outcomes at a mean follow-up of 6.8 years. Nevertheless, >60% of the parents reported noncompliance with the bracing recommendations; almost 70% of patients had at least one relapse; and 38% of all patients eventually required an anterior tibial tendon transfer. Increased severity of the initial deformity, occurrence of a relapse, and a shorter duration of brace use were all associated with worse outcomes.

Taken as a whole, the results of this study are comparable to those presented by Ponseti and others from his institution. Even though the Zionts et al. investigation was also  a single-center study, the findings are important considering the widespread use of his technique and limited “external” data confirming the validity of this method.

Dr. Ponseti created and refined a highly impactful technique that yields good outcomes in patients with a difficult problem. Although it took decades for his methods to be widely accepted, the lesson here is that what wins the day are careful documentation, thoughtful attention to how best to teach a method, and persistence in the face of skepticism.

Marc Swiontkowski, MD
JBJS Editor-in-Chief

JBJS 100: Shoulder Impingement and Distraction Osteogenesis

JBJS 100Under one name or another, The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery has published quality orthopaedic content spanning three centuries. In 1919, our publication was called the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery, and the first volume of that journal was Volume 1 of what we know today as JBJS.

Thus, the 24 issues we turn out in 2018 will constitute our 100th volume. To help celebrate this milestone, throughout the year we will be spotlighting 100 of the most influential JBJS articles on OrthoBuzz, making the original content openly accessible for a limited time.

Unlike the scientific rigor of Journal content, the selection of this list was not entirely scientific. About half we picked from “JBJS Classics,” which were chosen previously by current and past JBJS Editors-in-Chief and Deputy Editors. We also selected JBJS articles that have been cited more than 1,000 times in other publications, according to Google Scholar search results. Finally, we considered “activity” on the Web of Science and The Journal’s websites.

We hope you enjoy and benefit from reading these groundbreaking articles from JBJS, as we mark our 100th volume. Here are two more:

Anterior Acromioplasty for Chronic Impingement Syndrome in the Shoulder
C S Neer: JBJS, 1972 January; 54 (1): 41
For many years after its publication, this 1972 JBJS article changed the treatment approach for patients with shoulder disability. But more recently, arthroscopy and magnetic resonance imaging arthrography have identified other painful non-impingement shoulder conditions. Consequently, the liberal use of acromioplasty to treat “impingement” is being replaced by a trend toward making an anatomic diagnosis, such as a partial or complete rotator cuff tear, and performing aggressive rehabilitation prior to corrective surgery.

Use of the Ilizarov Technique for Treatment of Non-union of the Tibia Associated with Infection
G K Dendrinos, S Kontos, E Lyritsis: JBJS, 1995 June; 77 (6): 835
This case series described a technique of bone transport with bridging achieved by distraction osteogenesis. The defects averaged 6 cm, the mean duration of treatment was 10 months, and the mean time to union was 6 months. More recent research has focused on augmenting the osteogenic potential of tissues in the distraction gap with substances such as bone morphogenetic protein, platelet-rich plasma, and mesenchymal stem cells.

Association Between Distal Radial Fracture Malunion and Patient-Reported Activity Limitations

The long-term effect of distal radial fracture malunion on activity limitations is unknown. https://bit.ly/2qYgOMh #JBJS

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