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Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2016 Jan;140:6-10. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2015.11.005. Epub 2015 Nov 12.

Surgical complications following malignant brain tumor surgery: An analysis of 2002-2011 data.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Department of Neurosurgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.
Department of Neurosurgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA. Electronic address:



To estimate the incidence of surgical complications and associated in-hospital morbidity and mortality following surgery for malignant brain tumors.


The Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database was queried from 2002 to 2011. All adult patients who underwent elective brain surgery for a malignant brain tumor were included. Surgical complications included wrong side surgery, retention of a foreign object, iatrogenic stroke, meningitis, hemorrhage/hematoma complicating a procedure, and neurological complications. A regression model was conducted to estimate the odds ratios (OR) with their 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) of in-hospital mortality for each surgical complication.


A total of 16,530 admissions were analyzed, with 601 (36.2 events per 1000 cases) surgical complications occurring in 567 patients. Over the examined 10-year period, the overall incidence of surgical complications did not change (P=0.061) except for iatrogenic strokes, which increased in incidence from 14.1 to 19.8 events per 1000 between 2002 and 2011 (P=0.023). Patients who developed a surgical complication had significantly longer lengths of stay, total hospital costs, and higher rates of other complications. Patients who experienced an iatrogenic stroke had a significantly increased risk of mortality (OR 9.6; 95% 6.3-14.8) and so were patients with a hemorrhage/hematoma (OR 3.3; 95% CI 1.6-6.6).


In this study of an administrative database, patients undergoing surgery for a malignant brain tumor who suffered from a surgical complication had significantly longer lengths of stay, total hospital charges, and complication rates. Having a surgical complication was also an independent risk factor for in-hospital mortality. Nonetheless, it is unclear whether all surgical complications were clinically relevant, and further research is encouraged.


Malignant brain tumor; Nationwide inpatient sample; Neurosurgery; Sentinel event; Surgical complication

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