National evaluation of hospital readmission after pulmonary resection

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Our objectives were to (1) assess readmission rates and timing after pulmonary resection, (2) report the most common reasons for rehospitalization, and (3) identify risk factors for unplanned readmission after pulmonary resection.


Patients who underwent pulmonary resection were identified from the 2011 American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database. We examined readmission within 30 days of surgery for all resections and 3 subgroups: open lobectomy, video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy, and pneumonectomy. Regression models were developed to identify factors associated with readmission.


In 1847 patients, there were 899 open lobectomies (49%), 724 video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomies (39%), and 85 pneumonectomies (5%). The overall readmission rate was 9.3% with no significant difference found among patients undergoing open lobectomy (9.1%), video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy (8.4%), or pneumonectomy (11.8%) (P = .576). The median time from operation to readmission was similar among patients undergoing open (14 days) or video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy (13 days). The most common cause of readmission for all groups examined was pulmonary related. In multivariable analyses, the strongest factor associated with readmission was an inpatient complication after the initial surgery in all resections (hazard ratio [HR], 4.29; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.05-6.04), open lobectomy (HR, 4.36; 95% CI, 2.75-6.94), and video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy (HR, 4.60; 95% CI, 2.65-7.97). Surgical approach was not associated with readmission (video-assisted thoracoscopic vs open lobectomy: HR, 1.07; 95% CI, 0.75-1.52).


Experiencing a postoperative complication was strongly associated with unplanned readmission. Increased attention toward reducing postoperative complications and earlier outpatient follow-up in these patients may be a viable strategy for decreasing readmissions after pulmonary resection.

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