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Original research
Major elective non-cardiac operations in adults with congenital heart disease


Objective To assess the impact of congenital heart disease (CHD) on resource utilisation and clinical outcomes in patients undergoing major elective non-cardiac operations.

Background Due to advances in congenital cardiac management in recent years, more patients with CHD are living into adulthood and are requiring non-cardiac operations.

Methods The 2010–2018 Nationwide Readmissions Database was used to identify all adults undergoing major elective operations (pneumonectomy, hepatectomy, hip replacement, pancreatectomy, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, colectomy, gastrectomy and oesophagectomy). Multivariable regression models were used to categorise key clinical outcomes.

Results Of an estimated 4 941 203 adults meeting inclusion criteria, 5234 (0.11%) had a previous diagnosis of CHD. Over the study period, the incidence of CHD increased from 0.06% to 0.17%, p<0.001. CHD patients were on average younger (63.3±14.8 vs 64.4±12.5 years, p=0.004), had a higher Elixhauser Comorbidity Index (3.3±2.2 vs 2.3±1.8, p<0.001) and received operations at high volume centres more frequently (66.6% vs 62.0%, p=0.003). Following risk adjustment, these patients had increased risk of in-hospital mortality (adjusted risk ratio (ARR): 1.76, 95% CI 1.25 to 2.47), experienced longer hospitalisation durations (+1.6 days, 95% CI 1.3 to 2.0) and cost more (+$8370, 95% CI $6686 to $10 055). Furthermore, they were more at risk for in-hospital complications (ARR: 1.24 95% CI 1.17 to 1.31) and endured higher adjusted risk of readmission at 30 days (ARR: 1.32 95% CI 1.13 to 1.54).

Conclusions Adults with CHD are more frequently comprising the major elective operative cohort for non-cardiac cases. Due to the inferior clinical and financial outcomes suffered by this population, perioperative risk stratification may benefit from the inclusion of CHD as a factor that portends unfavourable outcomes.

  • Congenital heart disease
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Congenital Abnormalities

Data availability statement

Data are available in a public repository.

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