Variability in the management of adhesive small bowel obstruction in children

Jordan C. Apfeld, Jennifer N. Cooper, Lindsay A. Gil, Afif N. Kulaylat, Nathan S. Rubalcava, Carley M. Lutz, Katherine J. Deans, Peter C. Minneci, K. Elizabeth Speck

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4 Scopus citations


Background: This study assessed inter-hospital variability in operative-vs-nonoperative management of pediatric adhesive small bowel obstruction (ASBO). Methods: A multi-institutional retrospective study was performed examining patients 1–21 years-of-age presenting with ASBO from 2010 to 2019 utilizing the Pediatric Health Information System. Multivariable mixed-effects logistic regression was performed assessing inter-hospital variability in operative-vs-nonoperative management of ASBO. Results: Among 6410 pediatric ASBO admissions identified at 46 hospitals, 3,239 (50.5%) underwent surgery during that admission. The hospital-specific rate of surgery ranged from 35.3% (95%CI: 28.5–42.6%) to 74.7% (66.3–81.6%) in the unadjusted model (p < 0.001), and from 35.1% (26.3–45.1%) to 73.9% (66.7–79.9%) in the adjusted model (p < 0.001). Factors associated with operative management for ASBO included admission to a surgical service (OR 2.8 [95%CI: 2.4–3.2], p < 0.001), congenital intestinal and/or rotational anomaly (OR 2.5 [2.1–3.1], p < 0.001), diagnostic workup including advanced abdominal imaging (OR 1.7 [1.5–1.9], p < 0.001), non-emergent admission status (OR 1.5 [1.3–1.8], p < 0.001), and increasing number of complex chronic comorbidities (OR 1.3 [1.2–1.4], p < 0.001). Factors associated with nonoperative management for ASBO included increased hospital-specific annual ASBO volume (OR 0.98 [95%CI: 0.97–0.99], p = 0.002), older age (OR 0.97 [0.96–0.98], p < 0.001), public insurance (OR 0.87 [0.78–0.96], p = 0.008), and presence of coinciding non-intestinal congenital anomalies, neurologic/neuromuscular disease, and/or medical technology dependence (OR 0.57 [95%CI: 0.47–0.68], p < 0.001). Conclusions: Rates of surgical intervention for ASBO vary significantly across tertiary children's hospitals in the United States. The variability was independent of patient and hospital characteristics and is likely due to practice variation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1509-1517
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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