Object. Death after ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt surgery is uncommon, and therefore it has been difficult to study. The authors used a population-based national hospital discharge database to examine the relationship between annual hospital and surgeon volume of VP shunt surgery in pediatric patients and in-hospital mortality rates.
Methods. All children in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (1998–2000, age 90 days—18 years) who underwent VP shunt placement or shunt revision as the principal procedure were included. Main outcome measures were in-hospital mortality rates, length of stay (LOS), and total hospital charges.
Overall, 5955 admissions were analyzed (253 hospitals, 411 surgeons). Mortality rates were lower at high-volume centers and for high-volume surgeons. In terms of hospital volume, the mortality rate was 0.8% at lowest-quartile-volume centers (< 28 admissions/year) and 0.3% at highest-quartile-volume centers (> 121 admissions/year). In terms of surgeon volume, the mortality rate was 0.8% for lowest-quartile-volume providers (< nine admissions/year) and 0.1% for highest-quartile-volume providers (> 65 admissions/year). After multivariate adjustment for demographic variables, emergency admission and presence of infection, hospital volume of care remained a significant predictor of death (odds ratio [OR] for a 10-fold increase in caseload 0.38; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.18–0.81). Surgeon volume of care was statistically significant in a similar multivariate model (OR for a 10-fold increase in caseload 0.3; 95% CI 0.13–0.69). Length of stay was slightly shorter and total hospital charges were slightly higher at higher-volume centers, but the differences were not statistically significant.
Conclusions. Pediatric shunt procedures performed at high-volume hospitals or by high-volume surgeons were associated with lower in-hospital mortality rates, with no significant difference in LOS or hospital charges.