Outcomes from 3144 adrenalectomies in the United States: which matters more, surgeon volume or specialty?

Henry S Park, Sanziana A Roman, Julie Ann Sosa
Archives of Surgery 2009, 144 (11): 1060-7

OBJECTIVE: To assess the effect of surgeon volume and specialty on clinical and economic outcomes after adrenalectomy.

DESIGN: Population-based retrospective cohort analysis.

SETTING: Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample.

PARTICIPANTS: Adults (>or=18 years) undergoing adrenalectomy in the United States (1999-2005). Patient demographic and clinical characteristics, surgeon specialty (general vs urologist), surgeon adrenalectomy volume, and hospital factors were assessed.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The chi(2) test, analysis of variance, and multivariate linear and logistic regression were used to assess in-hospital complications, mean hospital length of stay (LOS), and total inpatient hospital costs.

RESULTS: A total of 3144 adrenalectomies were included. Mean patient age was 53.7 years; 58.8% were women and 77.4% white. A higher proportion of general surgeons were high-volume surgeons compared with urologists (34.1% vs 18.2%, P < .001). Low-volume surgeons had more complications (18.2% vs 11.3%, P < .001) and their patients had longer LOS (5.5 vs 3.9 days, P < .001) than did high-volume surgeons; urologists had more complications (18.4% vs 15.2%, P = .03) and higher costs ($13,168 vs $11,732, P = .02) than did general surgeons. After adjustment for patient and provider characteristics in multivariate analyses, surgeon volume, but not specialty, was an independent predictor of complications (odds ratio = 1.5, P < .002) and LOS (1.0-day difference, P < .001). Hospital volume was associated only with LOS (0.8-day difference, P < .007). Surgeon volume, specialty, and hospital volume were not predictors of costs.

CONCLUSION: To optimize outcomes, patients with adrenal disease should be referred to surgeons based on adrenal volume and laparoscopic expertise irrespective of specialty practice.

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