Effect of sex and race on outcome in patients undergoing congenital heart surgery: an analysis of the society of thoracic surgeons congenital heart surgery database

Ann Thorac Surg. 2012 Dec;94(6):2054-9; discussion 2059-60. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2012.05.124. Epub 2012 Aug 9.


Background: Previous studies on the impact of race and sex on outcome in children undergoing cardiac operations were based on analyses of administrative claims data. This study uses clinical registry data to examine potential associations of sex and race with outcomes in congenital cardiac operations, including in-hospital mortality, postoperative length of stay (LOS), and complications.

Methods: The Society of Thoracic Surgeons Congenital Heart Surgery Database (STS-CHSD) was queried for patients younger than 18 years undergoing cardiac operations from 2007 to 2009. Preoperative, operative, and outcome data were collected on 20,399 patients from 49 centers. In multivariable analysis, the association of race and sex with outcome was examined, adjusting for patient characteristics, operative risk (Society of Thoracic Surgeons-European Association for Cardiothoracic Surgery [STAT] mortality category), and operating center.

Results: Median age at operation was 0.4 years (interquartile range 0.1-3.4 years), and 54.4% of patients were boys. Race/ethnicity included 54.9% white, 17.1% black, 16.4% Hispanic, and 11.7% "other." In adjusted analysis, black patients had significantly higher in-hospital mortality (odds ratio [OR], 1.67; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.37-2.04; p<0.001) and complication rate (OR, 1.15; 95% CI, 1.04-1.26; p<0.01) in comparison with white patients. There was no significant difference in mortality or complications by sex. Girls had a shorter LOS than boys (-0.8 days; p<0.001), whereas black (+2.4 days; p<0.001) and Hispanic patients (0.9 days; p<0.01) had longer a LOS compared with white patients.

Conclusions: These data suggest that black children have higher mortality, a longer LOS, and an increased complication rate. Girls had outcomes similar to those of boys but with a shorter LOS of almost a day. Further study of potential causes underlying these race and sex differences is warranted.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / mortality
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery*
  • Hospital Mortality / trends
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Length of Stay / trends
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Sex Factors
  • Societies, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • Thoracic Surgery*
  • United States / epidemiology