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To evaluate graduating orthopaedic resident case volume and variability for ankle arthroscopy from 2016 to 2020.
The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education surgical case log data from 2016 to 2020 for graduating United States orthopaedic surgery residents was assessed. Arthroscopy procedures of the leg/ankle were categorized. The average number of cases performed per resident was compared from 2016 to 2020 to determine the percent change in case volume. The 10th, 30th, 50th, 70th, and 90th percentiles of case volumes from 2016 to 2020 were presented to demonstrate case volume variability.
There was no significant change in the average number of leg/ankle arthroscopy cases from 2016 to 2020 (6.2 ± 5 [range 0-35] vs 6.1 ± 6 [range 0-76] P = .732), despite a 19% increase in the average number of total leg/ankle procedures performed over time (168.4 ± 47 [range 55-414] in 2016; 200.8 ± 57 in 2020 [range 67-601], P < .001). There was wide variability in ankle arthroscopy case volume among residents. The 90th percentile of residents performed 13 cases in 2020, compared with 5 in 50th percentile, and 1 in the 10th percentile.
Orthopaedic surgery resident exposure to ankle arthroscopy has remained low and highly variable overtime, despite an overall increase in the total number of leg/ankle procedures performed.
Understanding ankle arthroscopy in case volume and variability is important for programs to ensure that orthopaedic residents are gaining adequate exposure to increasingly popular procedures. Orthopaedic surgery residency programs should explore methods to increase resident exposure to ankle arthroscopy.
Profound changes in orthopaedic surgery residency education have occurred in the last decade. In 2013, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) implemented a new accreditation system for graduate medical education in the United States,
Assessment of resident case logs have become an important measure of procedural experience and are frequently monitored by the ACGME to ensure adequate procedural volume and case variety among residents for their given year of training.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate graduating orthopaedic resident case volume and variability for ankle arthroscopy from 2016 to 2020. We hypothesized that case volume would remain low during this time, despite an overall increase in the number of ankle procedures performed. We also hypothesized wide variability in case volume among the 10th and 90th percentile of graduating residents.
The ACGME case log reports from 2016 to 2020 for all graduating orthopaedic surgery residents were reviewed in January of 2022. Residents log surgical procedures using Current Procedural Codes (CPT). The ACGME groups CPT codes into anatomic categories and provides national averages for several resident-performed procedures. Procedures include incision, excision, intro or removal, repair/revision/reconstruction, trauma, fracture/dislocation, manipulation, arthrodesis, amputation, arthroscopy, and other. Anatomic categories include shoulder, humerus/elbow, forearm/wrist, hand/fingers, pelvis/hip, femur/knee, leg/ankle, and foot/toes. In this study, the mean number of total (adult and pediatric) arthroscopy cases performed per resident under the leg/ankle ACGME case category from 2016 to 2020 was assessed to determine a percent change in case volume. The specific CPT codes and definitions for each arthroscopy procedure under the leg/ankle ACGME case category are listed in Table 1. In addition, 10th, 30th, 50th, 70th, and 90th percentiles of case volumes from 2016 to 2020 were presented to examine case volume variability.
Table 1CPT Codes With Description of Arthroscopy Procedures for the Leg/Ankle
Arthroscopy, ankle, surgical, excision of osteochondral defect of talus and/or tibia, including drilling of the defect
Arthroscopically aided repair of large osteochondritis dissecans lesion, talar dome fracture, or tibial plafond fracture, with or without internal fixation (includes arthroscopy)
Arthroscopy, ankle (tibiotalar and fibulotalar joints), surgical; with removal of loose body or foreign body
Arthroscopy, ankle (tibiotalar and fibulotalar joints), surgical; synovectomy, partial
Arthroscopy, ankle (tibiotalar and fibulotalar joints), surgical; debridement, limited
Arthroscopy, ankle (tibiotalar and fibulotalar joints), surgical; debridement, extensive
Arthroscopy, ankle (tibiotalar and fibulotalar joints), surgical; with ankle arthrodesis
Comparisons of mean case volume reported per resident were examined using unpaired 2-tailed t tests. Statistical significance was designated a P < .05. Excel software, version 16.0 (Microsoft Corp., Redmond, WA) was used for data input and statistical tests.
The total number of orthopaedic surgery residency programs was 153 (705 residents) in 2016, 156 (709 residents) in 2017, 154 (729 residents) in 2018, 154 (725 residents) in 2019, and 154 (724 residents) in 2020 (Table 2).
Table 2The Demographics of Orthopaedic Surgery ACGME Case Log Respondents
Total Number of Residency Programs
Total Number of Residents
ACGME, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
The average number of total leg/ankle procedures performed per resident was 168.4 ± 47 (median 163; range 55-414) in 2016, which increased to 200.8 ± 57 in 2020 (median 195; range 67-601), representing a 19.2% increase (P < .001) (Table 3). The average number of leg/ankle arthroscopy procedures performed per resident was 6.2 ± 5 (median 5; range 0-35) in 2016, which decreased to 6.1 ± 6 in 2020 (median 5; range 0-76), representing a 1.6% decrease (P = .732) (Table 3). Case volume for the mean and median number of total leg/ankle procedures and the number of leg/ankle arthroscopy procedures performed per resident from 2016 to 2020 are depicted in Figure 1.
Table 3Mean Number of Leg/Ankle Arthroscopy Procedures per Graduating Orthopaedic Surgery Resident From 2016 to 2020
There was a low level of variability in total case volume pertaining to the leg/ankle and a wide level of variability in the number of leg/ankle arthroscopy cases performed per resident over the study period (Figure 2). The average number of total leg/ankle procedures performed by the 10th and 90th percentile of residents was 113 and 228 in 2016, representing a 1.16-fold difference, compared with 130 and 270 in 2020, representing a 1.18-fold difference (Table 4).
Table 4Variability in Leg/Ankle Arthroscopy Case Volume Between the 10th and 90th Percentiles of Graduating Orthopaedic Surgery Residents
The average number of leg/ankle arthroscopy procedures performed by the 10th and 90th percentile of residents was 1 and 13 in both 2016 and 2020, representing a 13-fold difference, respectively (Table 4). About 1 in 10 graduating orthopaedic surgery residents performed only a single ankle arthroscopy case each year, and half performed 5 cases or less (Table 4).
In this study, we found a statistically significant increase in the total number of leg/ankle procedures performed per graduating orthopaedic surgery resident from 2016 to 2020. Despite this, resident exposure to ankle arthroscopy remained low throughout the study period and highly variable, with a 13-fold difference in case volume among the 10th and 90th percentiles of performing residents.
In 2013, the ACGME mandated case minimum requirements for 15 core procedural categories in attempt to standardize resident procedural experience.
In a retrospective study of 32,307 patients undergoing ankle ORIF from 2007 to 2011, there was a significant increase in the prevalence of simultaneous arthroscopic treatment and significant decrease in the prevalence of arthroscopic ankle treatments occurring after ankle ORIF.
The authors believe this to be a result of early arthroscopic detection and treatment of cartilaginous injury at the time of acute ankle fracture, as 22.4% of patients received concurrent microfracture treatment. This study suggests that resident exposure to ankle arthroscopically may increase in the near future as more surgeons aim to identify and treat cartilaginous defects at the time of ankle ORIF.
Similar national rates have been reported for arthroscopic arthrodesis of the ankle. According to a recent 17-year analysis, the incidence of outpatient arthrodesis performed with arthroscopic assistance increased by 858%.
previously evaluated foot and ankle case volume among orthopaedic surgery residents from 2009 to 2013. Within this study, a 23% increase in ankle arthroscopy (6 vs 7.4) cases was reported, with a 14.0- to 15.0-fold difference between the 10th and 90th percentile of graduating residents. Our study is unique in that it offers an updated analysis of ankle arthroscopy case volume over the preceding 5 years. We found that residents preformed an average of 6.2 ankle arthroscopy cases in 2016, compared to 6.1 in 2020 (–1.6% change; P = .732). In addition, a 13.0-fold difference in case volume was present among the 10th and 90th percentile of graduating residents. Interestingly, however, the total number of leg/ankle procedures from 2009 to 2013 and 2016 to 2020 significantly increased during both time periods, respectively. These data imply that resident exposure to ankle arthroscopy has remained low and highly variable over the preceding decade, despite a continued increase in the number of leg/ankle procedures being performed.
Foot and ankle surgery has become a prominent focus of orthopaedic surgery residency curricula.
However, within this study, data regarding the case volumes of ankle arthroscopy among academic foot and ankle surgeons were not provided. Therefore, while this increase in academic foot and ankle faculty is likely to explain the increases in total leg/ankle exposure among orthopaedic residents, it is difficult to determine the stagnation in ankle arthroscopy
Teaching arthroscopic ankle surgery to orthopaedic residents is difficult, given the high level of dexterity, hand–eye coordination, triangulation, and anatomic understanding required.
This may hinder a surgeon’s readiness to adopt this procedure in an academic setting, as resident involvement may slow efficiency. Even at the attending surgeon level, a prolonged learning curve for ankle arthroscopy has been reported
As such, a lack of highly specialized ankle arthroscopists associated with academic institutions may be contributing to the variability in case exposure that we found.
The addition of a standardized ankle simulation curriculum has been shown to improve arthroscopic proficiency, anatomic recognition, and safety when compared with traditional apprenticeship teaching models.
performed a prospective comparative study that randomized trainees into either a simulation or standard practice group. Those in the simulation group received 4 one-on-one, 15-minute simulation training sessions over a 4-month period, whereas the standard practice group received no additional simulation or exposure. After intervention, the simulation group outscored the control group in total Arthroscopic Surgery Skill Evaluation Tool score and achieved nearly expert Arthroscopic Surgery Skill Evaluation Tool Safety scores upon cadaveric testing. While similar studies have reported improved ankle arthroscopy skills among orthopaedic residents with practice on cadaveric and simulator models,
As such, it is vital for trainees to achieve intraoperative ankle arthroscopy experience throughout their residency training and residency programs should explore methods to increase exposure to this procedure.
Resident case volume for ankle arthroscopy don’t seem to reflect the national increases in the incidence of this procedure. According to a recent nationwide database study,
it seems that orthopaedic resident case exposure to ankle arthroscopy is lower than many other areas of arthroscopic surgery. For example, from 2016 to 2020, the average number of shoulder arthroscopy cases performed increased from 69 to 79.7, representing a 15.5% increase.
However, knee arthroscopy appears to be the most commonly performed arthroscopic procedure among residents, as the average number of cases performed in 2020 was 111. Similar to ankle arthroscopy, resident case exposure to elbow arthroscopy and hip arthroscopy is relatively low and stagnant.
In addition, multiple studies have demonstrated favorable clinical outcomes when comparing open and arthroscopic ankle procedures. A meta-analysis performed in 2021 found that patients undergoing arthroscopic ankle arthrodesis for the treatment of advanced tibiotalar osteoarthritis experienced a greater fusion rate, lower fusion time, lower intraoperative blood loss, decreased hospital length of stay, and an overall lower rate of postoperative complications when compared to those undergoing open surgery.
In addition, a separate meta-analysis performed in 2022 comparing outcomes of arthroscopic versus open Brostrom repair showed significantly less time to weight-bearing and decreased pain scores in the arthroscopic groups.
Perhaps the use of ankle arthroscopy within academic settings will rise overtime as the evidence supporting its indications continue to grow.
The present study is not without limitations. The ACGME case log data does not specify the types of procedures within the leg/ankle category. Therefore, while case volume and variability for arthroscopic procedures of the leg/ankle were provided, these findings are not applicable to specific CPT procedural codes. Next, the ACGME case log data accuracy may be influenced by bias due to underreporting or overreporting among residents Next, the ACGME case log data accuracy for all arthroscopic procedures including hip, ankle, knee, and shoulder may be influenced by bias due to under-reporting or over-reporting among residents due to the fact that there are several unbundled CPT codes that can be included in a single arthroscopic surgical procedure.
Finally, the degree of resident participation within each case cannot be determined and may be subject to reporting bias, which may also threaten the accuracy of the data.
Orthopaedic surgery resident exposure to ankle arthroscopy has remained low and highly variable overtime, despite an overall increase in the total number of leg/ankle procedures performed. Implementing minimum case requirements for ankle arthroscopy during orthopaedic residency may be helpful to increase exposure to ankle arthroscopy and reduce variability in experience.
The authors report the following potential conflicts of interest or sources of funding: The authors report that they have no conflicts of interest in the authorship and publication of this article. Full ICMJE author disclosure forms are available for this article online, as supplementary material.