Outcomes of a Presurgical Optimization Program for Elective Hernia Repairs Among High-risk Patients

JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Nov 1;4(11):e2130016. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.30016.


Importance: Preoperative optimization is an important clinical strategy for reducing morbidity; however, nearly 25% of persons undergoing elective abdominal hernia repairs are not optimized with respect to weight or substance use. Although the preoperative period represents a unique opportunity to motivate patient health behavior changes, fear of emergent presentation and financial concerns are often cited as clinician barriers to optimization.

Objective: To evaluate the feasibility of evidence-based patient optimization before surgery by implementing a low-cost preoperative optimization clinic.

Design, setting, and participants: This quality improvement study was conducted 1 year after a preoperative optimization clinic was implemented for high-risk patients seeking elective hernia repair. The median (range) follow-up was 197 (39-378) days. A weekly preoperative optimization clinic was implemented in 2019 at a single academic center. Referral occurred for persons seeking elective hernia repair with a body mass index greater than or equal to 40, age 75 years or older, or active tobacco use. Data analysis was performed from February to July 2020.

Exposures: Enrolled patients were provided health resources and longitudinal multidisciplinary care.

Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcomes were safety and eligibility for surgery after participating in the optimization clinic. The hypothesis was that the optimization clinic could preoperatively mitigate patient risk factors, without increasing patient risk. Safety was defined as the occurrence of complications during participation in the optimization clinic. The secondary outcome metric centered on the financial impact of implementing the preoperative optimization program.

Results: Of the 165 patients enrolled in the optimization clinic, most were women (90 patients [54.5%]) and White (145 patients [87.9%]). The mean (SD) age was 59.4 (15.8) years. Patients' eligibility for the clinic was distributed across high-risk criteria: 37.0% (61 patients) for weight, 26.1% (43 patients) for tobacco use, and 23.6% (39 patients) for age. Overall, 9.1% of persons (15 patients) were successfully optimized for surgery, and tobacco cessation was achieved in 13.8% of smokers (8 patients). The rate of hernia incarceration requiring emergent surgery was 3.0% (5 patients). Economic evaluation found increased operative yield from surgical clinics, with a 58% increase in hernia-attributed relative value units without altering surgeon workflow.

Conclusions and relevance: In this quality improvement study, a hernia optimization clinic safely improved management of high-risk patients and increased operative yield for the institution. This represents an opportunity to create sustainable and scalable models that provide longitudinal care and optimize patients to improve outcomes of hernia repair.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Decision Trees
  • Elective Surgical Procedures
  • Female
  • Hernia
  • Herniorrhaphy* / economics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Michigan
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Quality Improvement* / economics
  • Risk Assessment / economics
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Treatment Outcome