Clinical Factors Associated With Reoperation and Prolonged Length of Stay in Free Tissue Transfer to Oncologic Head and Neck Defects

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Abstract

Importance

Prolonged hospitalization and reoperation after free tissue transfer may be associated with certain clinical factors.

Objective

To determine patient and surgical factors associated with length of stay (LOS) and reoperation following surgical procedures for malignant neoplasm of the head and neck involving microvascular free tissue transfer reconstruction.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This was a retrospective review of American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program data from 2012 to 2014 using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9), codes for malignant neoplasms of the head and neck. Multivariable logistic regression modeling was used to examine correlation of patient and surgical variables with reoperation and LOS. The national retrospective database included outcomes from community and academic participant hospitals (517 member institutions in 2014). A total of 1115 cases of head and neck malignant neoplasm ablation with microvascular free tissue transfer flap were reviewed retrospectively.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Incidence of reoperation within 30 days of index operation and hospitalization equal to or longer than 13.0 days, which is equal to being in the top quartile for duration of stay.

Results

Of the 1115 patients, 370 (33.2) were female, and the mean (SD) age was 66.8 (3.9) years. Predictors of prolonged length of stay included return to the operating room (odds ratio [OR], 4.8; 95% CI, 3.3-6.9), smoking (OR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.5-3.1), clean-contaminated wound (OR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.3-4.0), bony flap (OR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.2-2.8), age (OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.2-1.7), and operative time (OR, 1.2; 95% CI, 1.1-1.3). Reoperation occurred 298 times for 225 patients (20.2%). Mean (SD) time to reoperation was 8.0 (7.7) days, with 180 (80%) occurring before discharge from the primary operation. The most common indications for reoperation were neck exploration (37 [12.4%]) or incision and drainage of neck (35 [11.7%]).

Conclusions and Relevance

American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program data allow for large database analysis of free flap transfer to the head and neck. The data herein provide information to help guide surgeons on which patients will require longer stay in hospital and the most common reasons for return to the operating room. Wound class of index operation, subsequent wound-related complications, and long duration of the index operation were the primary drivers of increased risk for reoperation and, therefore, prolonged hospitalization. These same factors were also associated with prolonged hospitalization without reoperation.

Level of Evidence

NA.

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