The Gender Divide: The Impact of Surgeon Gender on Surgical Practice Patterns in Urology
There is a perception in urology that female urologists encounter gender based role assignments and are often pigeonholed into caring for more female patients and female specific urological issues than their male colleagues. We assessed the influence of surgeon gender on patient gender demographics by exploring the surgical case logs of American urologists.
Materials and Methods
Six-month case logs of certifying urologists from 2003 to 2012 were obtained from the ABU (American Board of Urology). We reviewed case logs based on CPT codes of common urological procedures, focusing on 6 index gender neutral and gender specific procedure groups, including treatment of nephrolithiasis, nephrectomy, resection of bladder tumors, treatment of stress urinary incontinence, elective sterilization and treatment of prostate cancer.
Among a cohort of 6,166 urologists 1,011,800 cases were logged. Female surgeons operated on a significantly higher percent of female patients than their male peers (54.4% vs 32.5%, p <0.01). Female surgeons performed significantly more female specific procedures, such as slings, than their male counterparts (18 vs 10 per year, p <0.001). Male urologists performed significantly more male specific procedures than their female colleagues, including 3 times as many vasectomies (32 vs 12 per year, p <0.001) and more than twice as many prostatectomies (15 vs 6 per year, p <0.001). These trends were consistent across all subspecialties and geographic regions (p <0.01).
Female surgeon gender has a significant influence on patient gender demographics among index urological procedures. As the number of women in urology grows, increasing attention to gender biases is necessary to understand how these disparities will shape the clinical landscape.