NCBI ROFL: Hand surgery volume and the US economy: is there a statistical correlation?

By ncbi rofl | January 25, 2011 7:00 pm

“To the best of our knowledge, there have been no previous studies evaluating the correlation of the US economy and hand surgery volume. Therefore, in light of the current recession, our objective was to study our institution’s hand surgery volume over the last 17 years in relation to the nation’s economy. A retrospective analysis of our institution’s hand surgery volume, as represented by our most common procedure (ie, carpal tunnel release), was performed between January 1992 and October 2008. Liposuction and breast augmentation volumes were chosen to serve as cosmetic plastic surgery comparison groups. Pearson correlation statistics were used to estimate the relationship between the surgical volume and the US economy, as represented by the 3 market indices (Dow Jones, NASDAQ, and S&P500). A combined total of 7884 hand surgery carpal tunnel release (open or endoscopic) patients were identified. There were 1927 (24%) and 5957 (76%) patients within the departments of plastic and orthopedic surgery, respectively. In the plastic surgery department, there was a strong negative (ie, inverse relationship) correlation between hand surgery volume and the economy (P < 0.001). In converse, the orthopedic department’s hand surgery volume demonstrated a positive (ie, parallel) correlation (P < 0.001). The volumes of liposuction and breast augmentation also showed a positive correlation (P < 0.001). To our knowledge, we have demonstrated for the first time an inverse (ie, negative) correlation between hand surgery volumes performed by plastic surgeons in relation to the US economy, as represented by the 3 major market indices. In contrast, orthopedic hand surgery volume and cosmetic surgery show a parallel (ie, positive) correlation. This data suggests that plastic surgeons are increasing their cosmetic surgery-to-reconstructive/hand surgery ratio during strong economic times and vice versa during times of economic slowdown.”

Photo: flickr/JMRosenfeld

Related content:
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: And you thought your carpal tunnel was from typing…
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Self-surgery: not for the faint of heart.
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: 101 uses for a dead body (mummification optional).

WTF is NCBI ROFL? Read our FAQ!


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.

About ncbi rofl

NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing").Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


See More

Collapse bottom bar