Comprehensive Evaluation of the Trends in Length of Stay and Post-discharge Complications After Colon Surgery in the USA

J Gastrointest Surg. 2022 Oct;26(10):2184-2192. doi: 10.1007/s11605-022-05391-0. Epub 2022 Jul 11.


Introduction: With widespread adoption of enhanced recovery protocols and a push toward shorter length of stay (LOS) following colon surgery, the extent to which complications have shifted to the post-discharge setting is unknown. The objectives of this study were to (1) characterize changes in LOS and post-discharge complications over time and (2) evaluate risk factors associated with post-discharge complications.

Methods: Patients who underwent elective colon resection from 2012 to 2018 were identified from the ACS NSQIP Colectomy-Targeted Dataset. Changes in LOS and the proportion of post-discharge complications were evaluated over time, and predictors of post-discharge complications were assessed using multivariable logistic regression.

Results: Of the 98,136 patients who underwent colon resection, median LOS decreased from 5 days in 2012 to 4 days in 2018. Overall, 30-day complication rate was 21.5%, which decreased during the study period (25.8 to 19.1%, p < 0.001). Of the 13 individual complications evaluated, 4 demonstrated a significant increase in the proportion of post-discharge events including overall SSI (55.8 to 63.3%, p = 0.002), superficial SSI (57.3 to 75.7%, p < 0.001), wound disruption (46.0 to 62.1%, p = 0.047), and UTI (41.5 to 62.7%, p < 0.001). Factors associated with the development of any post-discharge complication included female sex, ASA III/IV/V, dependent functional status, and higher BMI. Intraoperative factors included wound class, operation time, and approach.

Conclusions: Although LOS and 30-day complications decreased over time, the proportion of events occurring post-discharge increased for several complications. We identified specific factors associated with post-discharge complications which emphasize the importance of a patient monitoring program to early identify and manage post-discharge complications.

Keywords: Colon surgery; Enhanced recovery protocol; Length of stay; Post-discharge complications; Postoperative complications.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aftercare*
  • Colectomy / adverse effects
  • Colon / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Patient Readmission
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies