AT THE AATS ANNUAL MEETING

BALTIMORE (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Approximately one in five patients is readmitted after esophagectomy, and leading risk factors for readmission are longer operative time, post-surgical ICU admission, and preoperative blood transfusions, according to a single-center study of 86 patients.

As one of the first reports on readmissions following esophagectomy with complete follow-up, this study, conducted at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., demonstrates that even in a high volume center with specialization in esophageal and foregut surgery, readmission after esophagectomy is not uncommon, researchers reported at the annual meeting of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery.

“In the context of increasing pressures to reduce length of stay, we must also put in the effort to better understand our readmission rates and the important factors that affect them,” said study investigator Dr. Stephen Cassivi . “Reporting on ‘improved’ lengths of stay without accompanying data on readmission rates is not telling the whole story.”

According to the Mayo Clinic research team, identifying risk factors that predict readmissions might permit improved patient management and outcomes.

“Careful collection of data regarding patient outcomes, including unplanned hospital readmissions is essential to improve the quality of patient care since national databases can leave gaps in data regarding follow-up of these patients by failing to identify all readmissions after their surgery,” said Dr. Karen J. Dickinson, who presented the study at the meeting.

The study was designed such that all patients undergoing an elective esophagectomy between August 2013 and July 2014 were contacted directly to follow up on whether they had been readmitted to any medical institution within 30 days of dismissal from the Mayo Clinic. Among all patients who underwent esophagectomy during the one-year study period, 86 patients met the study inclusion criteria. Follow-up was complete in 100% of patients, according to Dr. Dickinson.

Median age of the patients at the time of surgery was 63 years, and the majority of patients were men (70 patients). The most common operative approach was transthoracic (Ivor Lewis) esophagectomy (72%); 7% of cases were performed using a minimally invasive approach. Overall 30-day mortality was 2% (2/86), and anastomotic leak occurred in 8% of the patients.

Median length of stay was 9 days, and the rate of unplanned 30-day readmission was 19% (16 patients). Of these patients, 88% were readmitted to the Mayo Clinic and 12% were readmitted to other medical institutions.

The most common reasons for readmission were due to respiratory causes such as dyspnea, pleural effusions or pneumonia and gastrointestinal causes, including bowel obstruction and anastomotic complications.

Using multivariable analysis, the researchers found that the factors significantly associated with unplanned readmission were postoperative ICU admission (13% in non-readmitted, 38% in admitted), perioperative blood transfusion (12% vs. 38%), and operative length (368 vs. 460 minutes). Importantly, initial hospital length of stay was not associated with the need for readmission. Furthermore, ASA score, sex, BMI, neoadjuvant therapy, and postoperative pain scores also were not associated with unplanned readmission.

“Identifying these risk factors in the perioperative and postoperative setting may provide opportunities for decreasing morbidity, improving readmission rates, and enhancing overall patient outcomes,” Dr. Dickinson concluded.

A video of this presentation at the AATS Annual Meeting is available online.

Dr. Dickinson and her colleagues reported having no relevant disclosures.

mlesney@frontlinemedcom.com

On Twitter @ThoracicTweets

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