Hospital readmissions are a marker of surgical care delivery and quality that are progressively more scrutinized.
To provide a comprehensive analysis of 30-day readmissions for patients with head and neck cancer who underwent free flap reconstruction to highlight the rate, causes, and associated patient risk factors.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Retrospective cohort study at a single tertiary care academic institution. The study consisted of 249 patients who underwent microvascular reconstruction of a presumed head and neck oncologic defect from January 1, 2000, through June 30, 2014. Follow-up continued through July 30, 2014.
Microvascular reconstruction of an oncologic head and neck defect.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Incidence of 30-day all-cause readmissions, patient risk factors, and readmission indications. Regression analyses were conducted to discern patient-level risk factors related to 30-day readmissions.
Among the 249 patients, the 30-day all-cause readmission rate was 14.5%, while the unplanned readmission rate was 11.6%. The most common reason for readmission was neck wound complications. Predictors of readmission following multivariable analysis were T4 pathologic stage (odds ratio [OR], 11.68; 95% CI, 1.37-99.81; P = .02) and having a tumor located in the oropharynx (OR, 4.64; 95% CI, 1.89-11.38; P = .001), hypopharynx (OR, 8.30; 95% CI, 1.52-45.24; P = .01), or larynx (OR, 10.97; 95% CI, 2.27-52.98; P = .003). Patients who were readmitted were more likely to experience neck wound complications (OR, 5.07; 95% CI, 1.31-19.57; P = .02) and undergo reoperation (OR, 47.20; 95% CI, 8.33-267.33; P < .001).
Conclusions and Relevance
In this study, advanced pathologic tumor staging and tumor location were associated with 30-day readmissions in patients with head and neck cancer who receive free flaps. Our results provide a benchmark for risk stratification that can be used in system-based practice improvements, health care cost savings, and postoperative patient counseling.