Complications Within 30 Days of Hand Surgery: An Analysis of 10,646 Patients

J Hand Surg Am. 2015 Sep;40(9):1852-59.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2015.06.103. Epub 2015 Jul 30.


Purpose: The American College of Surgeons Surgical Quality Improvement Program database collects detailed and validated data on demographics, comorbidities, and 30-day postoperative outcomes of patients undergoing operations in most subspecialties. This dataset has been previously used to quantify complications and identify risk factors in other surgical subspecialties. We sought to determine the incidence of postoperative complications following hand surgery and to identify factors associated with increased risk of complications in order to focus preventive strategies.

Methods: National Surgical Quality Improvement Program data from 2006 to 2011 were queried using 302 hand-specific Current Procedural Technology codes. Descriptive statistics were calculated for the population, and potential risk factors and patient characteristics were analyzed for their association with complications in the 30-day postoperative period using both univariate and multivariate analyses.

Results: There were 208 hand-specific Current Procedural Technology codes represented in the data, and of these, 84 were associated with at least 1 complication. The overall incidence of complications within 30 days of hand surgery was 2.5% (95% confidence interval, 2.2%-2.8%). In univariate analysis, older age, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis, steroids, bleeding disorder, increasing American Society of Anesthesiologists class, increasing wound class, emergency procedure, longer operative time, and preoperative transfusion were associated with significantly higher risk of complications, and local anesthesia and outpatient surgery were associated with lower risk. In the multivariate model, male sex, increasing American Society of Anesthesiologists class, wound class 4, and preoperative transfusion were associated with significantly higher risk, and outpatient surgery was associated with significantly lower risk. The most common complication was surgical-site infection (1.2%).

Conclusions: The incidence of complications was low, with overall health status being more important than specific comorbidities in predicting complication risk. This information may be valuable in counseling patients before surgery and in identifying patients at higher risk for complications following hand surgery.

Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic III.

Keywords: Complications; NSQIP; hand surgery; morbidity; risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Hand / surgery*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Quality Improvement
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology