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Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2012 Sep 1;5(5):638-44. Epub 2012 Jul 24.

Variability in surgeons' perioperative practices may influence the incidence of low-output failure after coronary artery bypass grafting surgery.

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Departments of Medicine, Surgery, and Community and Family Medicine, and The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH, USA.



Postoperative low-output failure (LOF) is an important contributor to morbidity and mortality after coronary artery bypass grafting surgery. We sought to understand which pre- and intra-operative factors contribute to postoperative LOF and to what degree the surgeon may influence rates of LOF.


We identified 11 838 patients undergoing nonemergent, isolated coronary artery bypass grafting surgery using cardiopulmonary bypass by 32 surgeons at 8 centers in northern New England from 2001 to 2009. Our cohort included patients with preoperative ejection fractions >40%. Patients with preoperative intraaortic balloon pumps were excluded. LOF was defined as the need for ≥2 inotropes at 48 hours, an intra- or post-operative intraaortic balloon pumps, or return to cardiopulmonary bypass (for hemodynamic reasons). Case volume varied across the 32 surgeons (limits, 80-766; median, 344). The overall rate of LOF was 4.3% (return to cardiopulmonary bypass, 2.6%; intraaortic balloon pumps, 1.0%; inotrope usage, 0.8%; combination, 1.0%). The predicted risk of LOF did not differ across surgeons, P=0.79, and the observed rates varied from 1.1% to 10.2%, P<0.001. Patients operated by low-rate surgeons had shorter clamp and bypass times, antegrade cardioplegia, longer maximum intervals between cardioplegia doses, lower cardioplegia volume per anastomosis or minute of ischemic time, and less hot-shot use. Patients operated on by higher LOF surgeons had higher rates of postoperative acute kidney injury.


Rates of LOF significantly varied across surgeons and could not be explained solely by patient case mix, suggesting that variability in perioperative practices influences risk of LOF.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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