Conference Coverage

Pulmonary hypertension linked to complications after head and neck procedures



– Patients with pulmonary hypertension who undergo head and neck surgery face an increased risk of several postoperative complications, compared with their counterparts who do not have the condition. They also face an increase in total charges and length of stay.

A virtual imagining of an x-ray of the lungs is shown Purestock/thinkstockphotos

The findings come from what is believed to be the first study of its kind to investigate the impact of pulmonary hypertension (PHTN) on major head and neck procedures. “PHTN is a common condition which affects the caliber of lung vasculature, with varied symptom presentation from shortness of breath to syncope, with an estimated prevalence of 2.5 to 7.1 million new cases each year worldwide,” one of the study authors, Nirali M. Patel, said at the Triological Society’s Combined Sections Meeting. “Due to improved therapeutic options, there is an enhanced survival of PHTN patients and higher prevalence of this disease. PHTN has some significant systemic implications. Therefore, cardiopulmonary clearance and a clear understanding of postoperative complications are very important.”

Previous studies have shown PHTN to be an independent predictor of morbidity and mortality in noncardiac procedures, said Ms. Patel, a fourth-year medical student at New Jersey Medical School, Newark. Furthermore, the rate of pulmonary complications is reported to be between 11% and 44.8% following radical head and neck cancer resection. “Despite these findings, there is currently a lack of information regarding perioperative morbidity and mortality of patients with PHTN undergoing major head and neck procedures,” she said.

The researchers queried the National Inpatient Survey from 2002 to 2013 for all cases of major head and neck surgery based on the ICD-9 codes for esophagectomy, glossectomy, laryngectomy, mandibulectomy, and pharyngectomy. They divided patients into two groups: those who had PHTN and those who did not, and performed demographic analyses as well as univariate and multivariate regression analyses.

Ms. Patel reported findings from a cohort of 46,311 patients. Of these, 46,073 had PHTN and 238 did not. The two groups were similar in age (a mean of 69 vs. 60 years in those with and without PHTN, respectively) and race (80% white vs. 79% white, respectively), but there were significantly fewer male patients in the PHTN group (57% vs. 70%; P less than .0001).

Several patient comorbidities were increased in the PHTN group, compared with the non-PHTN group, including coagulopathy (8.4% vs. 3.1%; P less than .0001), chronic heart failure (22.4% vs. 4.1%; P less than .0001), complicated diabetes (4.6% vs. 1.2%; P less than .0001), fluid and electrolyte disorders (30% vs. 18.3%; P less than .0001), and hypertension (63.3% vs. 43.7%; P less than .0001).

Postoperatively, patients with PHTN had a longer length of stay (a mean of 15.80 vs. 11.50 days, respectively; P less than .0001) as well as significantly higher total charges (a mean of $162,021.06 vs. $107,309.46, respectively; P less than .0001). When the researchers evaluated postoperative outcomes between the two cohorts, patients with PHTN had significantly higher rates of cardiac complications (9.2% vs. 3.5%; P less than .0001), iatrogenic pulmonary embolism (2.1% vs. 0.3%; P = .001), pulmonary edema (2.1% vs. 0.4%; P = .003), venous thrombotic events (4.6% vs. 1%; P less than. 0001), pulmonary insufficiency (17.2% vs. 9.7%; P less than .0001), and pneumonia (9.7% vs. 6%; P = .027), as well as higher rates of postoperative tracheostomy (8.4% vs. 4.5%; P = .007).

Multivariate analysis revealed that the following factors predicted in-hospital mortality: coagulopathy, chronic heart failure, fluid and electrolyte disorders, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, hypothyroidism, liver disease, obesity, paralysis, and renal failure. Despite these findings, there was no significant change in overall hospital mortality for those with PHTN, with an odds ratio of 1.055.

“Our study is not without its limitations, many of which are inherent to the use of a database, which is subject to errors in coding and sampling,” Ms. Patel noted at the meeting, which was jointly sponsored by the Triological Society and the American College of Surgeons. “Despite these limitations, the study provides valuable information on the impact of PHTN on major head and neck procedures.

She reported having no financial disclosures.

SOURCE: Patel N et al. Triological CSM, Abstracts.

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