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Time to Return to School After 10 Common Orthopaedic Surgeries Among Children and Adolescents

Willimon, Samuel C., MD*,†; Johnson, Marjorie M., BA*; Herzog, Mackenzie M., MPH*; Busch, Michael T., MD*,†

Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics: July 2019 - Volume 39 - Issue 6 - p 322–327
doi: 10.1097/BPO.0000000000000947
Selected Topics

Background: Return to school among adolescents is often overlooked in orthopaedic outcome studies. The purpose was to measure the time missed from school after 10 common orthopedic surgeries.

Methods: Patients, 5 to 19 years old enrolled in elementary, middle, or high school, who underwent treatment for fixation of type III supracondylar humerus fracture, midshaft femur fracture fixation, isolated anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, isolated partial menisectomy, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis fusion, closed reduction of both-bone forearm fracture, arthroscopic Bankart repair, hip arthroscopy with femoroacetabular impingement correction, limb length discrepancy correction, or surgical fixation of slipped capital femoral epiphysis during the 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 school years were identified for this Institutional Review Board-approved study. All patients were contacted after surgery to determine date of return to school, number of days in session, and number of school days missed.

Results: Two hundred six patients met the inclusion criteria for this study. Mean age at time of surgery was 13.0±3.8 years. There were 105 males (51%). Mean time to return to school overall was 13.0±15.2 days. Very few students (n=9; 4%) did not miss any school days during recovery from the procedure of interest. The average number of days missed from school for males was 6.6 days compared with 8.4 days in females (P=0.20). There was no difference between patients aged 5 to 12 years compared with those aged 13 to 19 years (7.1 vs. 7.7 d, respectively; P=0.69). On average, patients who underwent closed reduction of a both-bone forearm fracture returned to school the quickest following surgery (3.4±1.2 d) and missed the least amount of in-session school days (1.9±0.9 d), and those who underwent adolescent idiopathic scoliosis fusion were out of school the longest (42.3±21.4 d) and missed the greatest number of in-session school days (27.6±14.7 d).

Conclusions: Information regarding average time missed from school for 10 common orthopaedic surgeries can be used by clinicians to counsel patients and their families regarding expected recovery time.

Level of Evidence: Level IV.

*Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Children’s Orthopaedics of Atlanta, Atlanta, GA

None of the authors received financial support for this study.

This study was approved by the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite IRB.

The entirety of the investigation was performed at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite and Children’s Orthopaedics of Atlanta.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Samuel C. Willimon, MD, 5445 Meridian Mark Road Suite 250, Atlanta, GA 30342. E-mail:

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