Perioperative Complications in Posterior Pharyngeal Flap Surgery: Review of the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program Pediatric (NSQIPPEDS) Database

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Posterior pharyngeal flap (PPF) surgery is effective for treating velopharyngeal insufficiency but has historically been associated with risk of airway compromise. This study aims to identify risk factors for complications from and readmission after PPF using a national database.


Patients who underwent PPF surgery were selected from the 2012 American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program Pediatric (NSQIP-PEDS) database. Patient characteristics, comorbidities, and complication/readmission data were analyzed.


Among 225 study patients, 12 (5.3%) suffered perioperative complications. The most common complications were pulmonary in nature (5 patients, 2.2%), including prolonged postoperative mechanical ventilation (3 patients, 1.3%). Underlying asthma (P= .024) or any cardiac risk factor (P=.047) conveyed significant complication risk. Further, severe cardiac risk factors were associated with postoperative bleeding (P= .024). Readmission (4 patients, 1.7%) and reoperation (3 patients, 1.3%) occurred at mean intervals of 9 and 10 days after the original procedure. Seventy-nine patients (35%) were discharged postoperatively on an outpatient basis, and this subgroup included only one patient (1.2%) with a complication (P= .038).


The overall perioperative complication rate for PPF surgery is low at 5.3%. Patients with underlying cardiac risk factors, severe American Society of Anesthesiologists Physical Status class, and asthma should prompt greater attention given their heightened risk profiles.

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