Routine leak testing in colorectal surgery in the Surgical Care and Outcomes Assessment Program.
ABSTRACT To evaluate the effect of routine anastomotic leak testing (performed to screen for leaks) vs selective testing (performed to evaluate for a suspected leak in a higher-risk or technically difficult anastomosis) on outcomes in colorectal surgery because the value of provocative testing of colorectal anastomoses as a quality improvement metric has yet to be determined.
Observational, prospectively designed cohort study.
Data from Washington state's Surgical Care and Outcomes Assessment Program (SCOAP).
Patients undergoing elective left-sided colon or rectal resections at 40 SCOAP hospitals from October 1, 2005, to December 31, 2009.
Use of leak testing, distinguishing procedures that were performed at hospitals where leak testing was selective (<90% use) or routine (≥ 90% use) in a given calendar quarter.
Adjusted odds ratio of a composite adverse event (CAE) (unplanned postoperative intervention and/or in-hospital death) at routine testing hospitals.
Among 3449 patients (mean [SD] age, 58.8 [14.8] years; 55.0% women), the CAE rate was 5.5%. Provocative leak testing increased (from 56% in the starting quarter to 76% in quarter 16) and overall rates of CAE decreased (from 7.0% in the starting quarter to 4.6% in quarter 16; both P ≤ .01) over time. Among patients at hospitals that performed routine leak testing, we found a reduction of more than 75% in the adjusted risk of CAEs (odds ratio, 0.23; 95% CI, 0.05-0.99).
Routine leak testing of left-sided colorectal anastomoses appears to be associated with a reduced rate of CAEs within the SCOAP network and meets many of the criteria of a worthwhile quality improvement metric.