Risk factors for mechanical ventilation and reintubation after pediatric heart surgery

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To determine the prevalence of and risk factors associated with the need for mechanical ventilation in children following cardiac surgery and the need for subsequent reintubation after the initial extubation attempt.


Patients younger than 18 years who underwent cardiac operations for congenital heart disease at one of the participating pediatric intensive care units (ICUs) in the Virtual PICU Systems (VPS), LLC, database were included (2009-2014). Multivariable logistic regression models were fitted to identify factors likely associated with mechanical ventilation and reintubation.


A total of 27,398 patients from 62 centers were included. Of these, 6810 patients (25%) were extubated in the operating room (OR), whereas 20,588 patients (75%) arrived intubated in the ICU. Of the patients who were extubated in the OR, 395 patients (6%) required reintubation. In contrast, 2054 patients (10%) required reintubation among the patients arriving intubated postoperatively in the ICU. In adjusted models, patient characteristics, patients undergoing high-complexity operations, and patients undergoing operations in lower-volume centers were associated with higher likelihood for the need for postoperative mechanical ventilation and need for reintubation. Furthermore, the prevalence of mechanical ventilation and reintubation was lower among the centers with a dedicated cardiac ICU in propensity-matched analysis among centers with and without a dedicated cardiac ICU.


This multicenter study suggests that proportion of patients extubated in the OR after heart operation is low. These data further suggest that extubation in the OR can be done successfully with a low complication rate.

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