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BACKGROUND: Neuromuscular/neurologic disease confers increased risk of perioperative mortality in children. Some patients require tracheostomy and/or feeding tubes to ameliorate upper airway obstruction or respiratory failure and reduce aspiration risk. Empiric differences between patients with and without these devices and their association with postoperative mortality have not been previously assessed.
METHODS: This retrospective cohort study using the Pediatric Health Information System measured 3- and 30-day in-hospital postsurgical mortality among children 1 month to 18 years of age with neuromuscular/neurologic disease at 44 US children's hospitals, from April 2016 to October 2018. We summarized differences between patients presenting for surgery with and without these devices using standardized differences. Then, we calculated 3- and 30-day mortality among patients with tracheostomy, feeding tube, both, and neither device, overall and stratified by important exposures, using Fisher exact test to test whether differences were significant.
RESULTS: There were 43,193 eligible patients. Unadjusted 3-day mortality was 1.3% (549/43,193); 30-day mortality was 2.7% (1168/43,193). Most (79.1%) used neither a feeding tube or tracheostomy, 1.2% had tracheostomy only, 15.5% had feeding tube only, and 4.2% used both devices. Compared to children with neither device, children using either or both devices were more likely to have multiple CCCs, dysphagia, chronic pulmonary disease, cerebral palsy, obstructive sleep apnea, or malnutrition, and a prolonged intensive care unit (ICU) stay within the previous year. They were less likely to present for high-risk surgeries (33% vs 57%). Having a feeding tube was associated with decreased 3-day mortality overall compared to having neither device (0.9% vs 1.3%, P = .003), and among children having low-risk surgery, and surgery during urgent or emergent hospitalizations. Having both devices was associated with decreased 3-day mortality among children having low-risk surgery (0.8% vs 1.9%; P = .013), and during urgent or emergent hospitalizations (1.6% vs 2.9%; P = .023). For 30-day mortality, having a feeding tube or both devices was associated with lower mortality when the data were stratified by the number of CCCs.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients requiring tracheostomy, feeding tube, or both are generally sicker than patients without these devices. Despite this, having a feeding tube was associated with lower 3-day mortality overall and lower 30-day mortality when the data were stratified by the number of CCCs. Having both devices was associated with lower 3-day mortality in patients presenting for low-risk surgery, and surgery during urgent or emergent hospitalizations.