The Pregnant Arthroplasty Surgeon: A Women in Arthroplasty Committee Editorial

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Journal of Arthroplasty


Background: Women orthopaedic surgeons face unique challenges during their careers. There are extremely low numbers of women in the field, particularly in the specialty of adult reconstruction. Factors contributing to low numbers of women entering this subspecialty include increased perceived physical demand relative to other fields, occupational hazards during pregnancy such as exposure to radiation and polymethylmethacrylate bone cement, concerns for work-life balance, and limited number of women within the subspecialty. The following editorial provides a framework to understand and manage the potential occupational hazards to pregnant and lactating surgeons, parental leave, and postpartum return to work. We aim to dispel any unfounded myths and provide evidence-based education that may help overcome these barriers. In doing so, we hope to encourage more women to consider adult reconstruction as a potential career. Methods: Our primary method consisted of completing an extensive literature review on the past and current articles about the aforementioned barriers which may contribute to the low number of women entering adult reconstruction. After this literature search was completed, we composed a comprehensive editorial that provided evidence-based education and recommendations for medical professionals. Conclusions: Issues pertaining to parenthood, pregnancy, and lactation pose barriers to success for women in orthopedic surgery. These concerns may dissuade talented women from pursuing a rewarding career in adult reconstruction. Education on these issues is needed to help our early-career colleagues plan and care for their families. Clearly stated and published policies should be made available in all training programs, fellowships, and clinical practices to allow understanding and unbiased implementation. By being more inclusive, adult reconstruction will have access to the best possible surgeons, which will benefit not only patients but the field as a whole.

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