By 2035, cardiothoracic surgeons will be responsible for more than 850,000 patients, a 61 percent increased caseload overall and a 121 percent increase for each surgeon, according to a database analysis.
Lead researcher Susan Moffat-Bruce, MD, PhD, of Ohio State University, presented the results on May 17 at the American Association for Thoracic Surgery annual meeting in Baltimore.
The researchers evaluated data from the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and estimated that 4,000 cardiothoracic surgeons performed more than 530,000 operations in 2010.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 310,233,000 people in the U.S. in 2010, including 40,229,000 who were at least 65 years old. By 2035, there will be an estimated population of 389,531,000, of which 77,543,000 will be at least 65 years old.
Using that data and projections, the researchers estimated that the number of cases cardiothoracic surgeons will perform will increase to 853,947 in 2035. Meanwhile, the average case load per surgeon will increase from 135 in 2010 to 299 in 2035 because of the population growth and the small growth in the number of surgeons who will be trained and certified by then.
“We predict that there will be an inability to provide cardiothoracic services in 2035 due to the shortage of surgeons and an unknown but increasing caseload,” Moffat-Bruce said in a news release. “The increase in the caseload for cardiothoracic surgeons will be a result of not only the increase in the general population, but especially an increase in the population manifesting both cardiovascular disease as well as thoracic malignancies.”