Complications After Cardiac Operations: All Are Not Created Equal

Todd C. Crawford, J. Trent Magruder, Joshua C. Grimm, Alejandro Suarez-Pierre, Christopher M. Sciortino, Kaushik Mandal, Kenton J. Zehr, John V. Conte, Robert S. Higgins, Duke E. Cameron, Glenn J. Whitman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Background Postoperative complications are associated with increased morbidity and mortality after cardiac operations. We sought to quantify the effect of multiple complications on noninstitutionalized recovery after cardiac operations. Methods We identified 2,477 adult patients from our institutional cardiac surgery database who underwent one of seven index cardiac surgical operations from 2011 to 2014. We calculated failure-to-rescue rates for all individual complications and combinations of complications. We used multivariable logistic regression to determine the effect of the interaction of postoperative complications on our primary outcome of operative death and secondary outcomes of prolonged hospital length of stay and discharge to a location other than home. Results From 2011 to 2014, at least one complication occurred in 366 patients (14.8%), and multiple complications occurred in 102 (4.1%), including three complications in 20 (0.8%). Operative mortality occurred in 41% of patients with multiple complications vs in 4.9% of those with an isolated complication and in 0.7% of those without complications. Significant interactions that negatively affected survival were noted between nearly every combination of complications. The occurrence of renal failure and unplanned reoperation together were associated with increased deaths (odds ratio, 108.4; 95% confidence interval, 13.5 to 869.9; p < 0.001). Median hospital length of stay and discharge rates to a location other than home correlated positively with the number of postoperative complications. Conclusions Major complications after cardiac operations are associated with an increased risk for operative death, longer hospital length of stay, and higher rates of discharge to a location other than home. These adverse outcomes are magnified when multiple complications are encountered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-40
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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