Early Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on Neurosurgical Training in the United States: A Case Volume Analysis of 8 Programs

Zaid S. Aljuboori, Christopher C. Young, Visish M. Srinivasan, Ryan T. Kellogg, Jennifer L. Quon, Mohammed A. Alshareef, Stephanie H. Chen, Michael Ivan, Gerald A. Grant, Sean D. McEvoy, Justin R. Davanzo, Sonia Majid, Sharon Durfy, Michael R. Levitt, Emily P. Sieg, Richard G. Ellenbogen, Haring J. Nauta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the impact of the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on operative case volume in 8 U.S. neurosurgical residency training programs in early 2020 and to survey these programs regarding training activities during this period. Methods: A retrospective review was conducted of monthly operative case volumes and types for 8 residency programs for 2019 and January through April 2020. Cases were grouped as elective cranial, elective spine, and nonelective emergent cases. Programs were surveyed regarding residents' perceptions of the impact of COVID-19 on surgical training, didactics, and research participation. Data were analyzed for individual programs and pooled across programs. Results: Across programs, the 2019 monthly mean ± SD case volume was 211 ± 82; 2020 mean ± SD case volumes for January, February, March, and April were 228 ± 93, 214 ± 84, 180 ± 73, and 107 ± 45. Compared with 2019, March and April 2020 mean cases declined 15% (P = 0.003) and 49% (P = 0.002), respectively. COVID-19 affected surgical case volume for all programs; 75% reported didactics negatively affected, and 90% reported COVID-19 resulted in increased research time. Several neurosurgery residents required COVID-19 testing; however, to our knowledge, only 1 resident from the participating programs tested positive. Conclusions: This study documents a significant reduction in operative volume in 8 neurosurgery residency training programs in early 2020. During this time, neurosurgery residents engaged in online didactics and research-related activities, reporting increased research productivity. Residency programs should collect data to determine the educational impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on residents' operative case volumes, identify deficiencies, and develop plans to mitigate any effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e202-e208
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Case volume
  • Coronavirus
  • Neurosurgery training
  • Residency
  • Skills


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