Predicting Postoperative Physiologic Decline After Surgery

Pediatrics. 2019 Apr;143(4):e20182042. doi: 10.1542/peds.2018-2042. Epub 2019 Mar 1.


Background: Projecting postoperative recovery in pediatric surgical patients is challenging. We assessed how the patients' number of complex chronic conditions (CCCs) and chronic medications interacted with active health issues to influence the likelihood of postoperative physiologic decline (PoPD).

Methods: A prospective study of 3295 patients undergoing elective surgery at a freestanding children's hospital. During preoperative clinical evaluation, active health problems, CCCs, and medications were documented. PoPD (compromise of cardiovascular, respiratory, and/or neurologic systems) was measured prospectively every 4 hours by inpatient nurses. PoPD odds were estimated with multivariable logistic regression. Classification and regression tree analysis distinguished children with the highest and lowest likelihood of PoPD.

Results: Median age at surgery was 8 years (interquartile range: 2-15); 2336 (70.9%) patients had a CCC; and 241 (7.3%) used ≥11 home medications. During preoperative evaluation, 1556 (47.2%) patients had ≥1 active health problem. After surgery, 882 (26.8%) experienced PoPD. The adjusted odds of PoPD were 1.2 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.0-1.4) for presence versus absence of an active health problem; 1.4 (95% CI: 1.0-1.9) for ≥11 vs 0 home medications; and 2.2 (95% CI: 1.7-2.9) for ≥3 vs 0 CCCs. In classification and regression tree analysis, the lowest rate of PoPD (8.6%) occurred in children without an active health problem at the preoperative evaluation; the highest rate (57.2%) occurred in children with a CCC who used ≥11 home medications.

Conclusions: Greater than 1 in 4 pediatric patients undergoing elective surgery experienced PoPD. Combinations of active health problems at preoperative evaluation, polypharmacy, and multimorbidity distinguished patients with a low versus high risk of PoPD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Health*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Postoperative Care / methods*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Postoperative Period
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Factors