Background — The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between surgeon age and early surgical complications following primary total hip arthroplasty (THA), within a year, in Ontario, Canada.
Methods — In a propensity-matched cohort, we defined consecutive adults who received their first primary THA for osteoarthritis (2002-2018). We obtained hospital discharge abstracts, patient's demographics and physician claims. Age of the primary surgeon was determined for each procedure and used as a continuous variable for spline analysis, and as a categorical variable for subsequent matching (young <45; middle-age 45-55; older >55). The primary outcome was early surgical complications (revision, dislocation, infection). Secondary analyses included high-volume vs low-volume surgeons (≤35 THA per year).
Results — We identified 122,043 THA recipients, 298 surgeons with median age 49 years. Younger, middle-aged, and older surgeons performed 39%, 29%, and 32% THAs, respectively. Middle-aged surgeons had the lowest rate of complications. Younger surgeons had a higher risk of composite complications (odds ratio [OR] 1.25, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.09-1.44, P = .002), revision (OR 1.28, 95% CI 1.07-1.54, P = .007), and infection (OR 1.39, 95% CI 1.12-1.71, P = .003). Older surgeons also had higher risk for composite complications (OR 1.18, 95% CI 1.03-1.36, P = .019), revision (OR 1.33, 95% CI 1.10-1.62, P = .004), and dislocation (OR 1.37, 95% CI 1.08-1.73, P = .009). However, when excluding low-volume surgeons, older high-volume surgeons had similar complications to middle-aged surgeons.
Conclusion — Younger surgeons (<45 years) had the highest recorded complications rate while the lowest rate was for surgeons aged 45-55. Volume rather than age was more important in determining rate of complications of older surgeons.