Year of Publication
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Many patients receiving pediatric palliative care (PPC) present with surgically treatable problems. The role of surgery in the care of these patients, however, has not yet been defined. We conducted a cohort study of children receiving PPC to assess the incidence, type, and likely purpose of surgical interventions performed after the initiation of PPC.
METHODS: We performed a cohort analysis of surgical interventions performed on children enrolled in an ongoing, multicenter, prospective cohort study. Patients aged <30 years receiving PPC services were eligible for inclusion in the study. Analyses included descriptive and comparative statistics, as well as logistic regression models.
RESULTS: After initiation of PPC, 81.1% (n = 488) of patients had undergone at least 1 surgical intervention (range, 1-71) with a median of 4 interventions (interquartile range, 1-9). The most frequent surgical interventions were feeding tubes, endoscopic biopsy, tracheostomy, bone marrow biopsy, tunneled catheters, bronchoscopy, and chest tube placement, followed by sternum closure, abdominal closure, atrial and ventricular septal defect repairs, and heart transplantation. Children who underwent surgical interventions were statistically less likely to die while receiving PPC (29% vs 40%, P < .03).
CONCLUSIONS: Most children receiving PPC services undergo at least 1 surgical intervention, and many undergo numerous interventions. Undergoing intervention is not futile because surgical intervention is associated with longer survival. Various patient populations that are more likely, as well as less likely, to undergo surgical intervention warrant specific focus.