Operative start times and complications after liver transplantation

Am J Transplant. 2010 Aug;10(8):1842-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2010.03177.x.


The recent national focus on patient safety has led to a re-examination of the risks and benefits of nighttime surgery. In liver transplantation, the hypothetical risks of nighttime operation must be weighed against either the well-established risks of prolonging cold ischemia or the potential risks of strategies to manipulate operative start times. A retrospective review was conducted of 578 liver transplants performed at a single institution between 1995 and 2008 to determine whether the incidence of postoperative complications correlated with operative start times. We hypothesized that no correlation would be observed between complication rates and operative start times. No consistent trends in relative risk of postoperative wound, vascular, biliary, or other complications were observed when eight 3-h time strata were compared. When two 12-h time strata (night, 3 p.m.-3 a.m., and day, 3 a.m.-3 p.m.) were compared, complications were not significantly different, but nighttime operations were longer in duration, and were associated a twofold greater risk of early death compared to daytime operations (adjusted OR 2.9, 95% CI 1.16-7.00, p = 0.023), though long-term survival did not differ significantly between the subgroups. This observation warrants further evaluation and underscores the need to explore and identify institution-specific practices that ensure safe operations regardless of time of day.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence
  • Fatigue / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Liver Transplantation / mortality
  • Male
  • Medical Errors
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician Impairment
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Time Factors