Postoperative complications after head and neck surgery carry the potential for significant morbidity. Estimating the risk of complications in an individual patient is challenging.
To develop a statistical tool capable of predicting an individual patient’s risk of developing a major complication after surgery for oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Retrospective case series derived from an institutional clinical oncologic database, augmented by medical record abstraction, at an academic tertiary care cancer center. Participants were 506 previously untreated adult patients with biopsy-proven oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma who underwent surgery between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2012.
Main Outcomes and Measures
The primary end point was a major postoperative complication requiring invasive intervention (Clavien-Dindo classification grades III-V). Patients treated between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2008 (354 of 506 [70.0%]) comprised the modeling cohort and were used to develop a nomogram to predict the risk of developing the primary end point. Univariable analysis and correlation analysis were used to prescreen 36 potential predictors for incorporation in the subsequent multivariable logistic regression analysis. The variables with the highest predictive value were identified with the step-down model reduction method and included in the nomogram. Patients treated between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2008 (152 of 506 [30.0%]) were used to validate the nomogram.
Clinical characteristics were similar between the 2 cohorts for most comparisons. Thirty-six patients in the modeling cohort (10.2%) and 16 patients in the validation cohort (10.5%) developed a major postoperative complication. The 6 preoperative variables with the highest individual predictive value were incorporated within the nomogram, including body mass index, comorbidity status, preoperative white blood cell count, preoperative hematocrit, planned neck dissection, and planned tracheotomy. The nomogram predicted a major complication with a validated concordance index of 0.79. Inclusion of surgical operative variables in the nomogram maintained predictive accuracy (concordance index, 0.77).
Conclusions and Relevance
A statistical tool was developed that accurately estimates an individual patient’s risk of developing a major complication after surgery for oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma.