Fewer complications if a woman has surgery

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Two retrospective studies in the Jama Surgery show that patients are slightly better off when a woman operates than when a man does.

The first study is a large Canadian cohort study by Christopher Wallis and colleagues. As early as 2017, they published a retrospective cohort study that showed that the postoperative outcome is slightly better when a woman operates instead of a man. The current study paints the same picture. Only the researchers now looked at a postoperative period of ninety days and one year instead of thirty days. The outcome measure was again the sum of readmission, death and complications. At 90 days postoperatively, 12.5 percent of patients had an undesirable outcome if a woman had operated and 13.9 percent if a man had done so. After one year, those percentages were 20.7 and 25 percent, respectively. The researchers took into account factors such as casemix heaviness. A sub-analysis showed that complications occurred slightly more often in women who had been operated on by a man.

Taking time

The second study is a Swedish study of the postoperative complications of a cholecystectomy. There, too, female surgeons scored better than male surgeons. According to the researchers, My Blohm et al., these results argue in favor of making women more enthusiastic about the surgical profession and providing them with better support in the workplace.

In an accompanying commentary to this publication, Swedish surgeon Martin Almquist points out that an association does not yet point to a causal relationship. While the explanation for the differences found is just so interesting, says Almquist. He does make a pass. The Swedish study also shows that the operation time is longer on average if a woman has surgery. So take your time, he seems to suggest. Although he also acknowledges that there are probably more explanatory factors involved.

DOI: 10.1001/jamasurg.2023.3744

DOI: 10.1001/jamasurg.2023.3736

DOI: 10.1001/jamasurg.2023.3741

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