An Assessment of 30-Day Complications in Primary Cleft Palate Repair: A Review of the 2012 ACS NSQIP Pediatric

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This study uses the American College of Surgeons Pediatric National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP Pediatric), a multicenter database, to identify risk factors for complications after cleft palate repair.


Patients undergoing Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes 42200 and 42205 were extracted from the 2012 ACS NSQIP Pediatric. Patients older than 36 months or those who had undergone an additional surgery that altered the risk were excluded. Outcome variables were combined to create a complication variable. Fisher's exact, Pearson chi-square, and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests were used for analysis.


Eligibility criteria were met by 751 patients. Of these, 192 (25.6%) had unilateral clefts, 146 (19.4%) bilateral, and 413 (55.0%) were unspecified. The average age at time of surgery for those without and with complications was 421.1 ± 184.8 and 433.6 ± 168.0 days, respectively (P= .76). Of the 21 (2.8%) patients with complications, respiratory complications were the most common. Risk factors associated with complications included American Society of Anesthesiologists classification of 3 (P=.003), nutritional support (P=.013), esophageal/gastric/intestinal disease (P= .016), oxygen support (P=.003), structural pulmonary/airway abnormality (P=.011), and impaired cognitive status (P=.009). Patients undergoing concurrent laryngoscopy (P=.048) or other surgeries (P=.047) were also found to be associated with increased complications. The 30-day fistula rate was 0.5%, and the readmission rate was 1.9%.


Perioperative complications for primary palatoplasty were 2.8% according to the ACS NSQIP Pediatric. Preoperative patient-related factors as well as concurrent surgeries may affect 30-day complication rates. These results help target those at greater risk for complications and allow for appropriate interventions to mitigate risks.

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