The effect of institutional volume on complications and their impact on mortality after pediatric heart transplantation

Cecillia Lui, Joshua C. Grimm, J. Trent Magruder, Samuel P. Dungan, Joseph A. Spinner, Nhue Do, Kristin L. Nelson, Duke E. Cameron, Luca A. Vricella, Marshall L. Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background This study evaluated the potential association of institutional volume with survival and mortality subsequent to major complications in a modern cohort of pediatric patients after orthotopic heart transplantation (OHT). Methods The United Network of Organ Sharing database was queried for pediatric patients (aged ≤18 years) undergoing OHT between 2000 and 2010. Institutional volume was defined as the average number of transplants completed annually during each institution's active period and was evaluated as categoric and as a continuous variable. Logistic regression models were used to determine the effect of institutional volumes on postoperative outcomes, which included renal failure, stroke, rejection, reoperation, infection, and a composite complication outcome. Cox modeling was used to analyze the risk-adjusted effect of institutional volume on 30-day, 1-year, and 5-year mortality. Kaplan-Meier estimates were used to compare differences in unconditional survival. Results A total of 3,562 patients (111 institutions) were included and stratified into low-volume (<6.5 transplants/year, 91 institutions), intermediate-volume (6.5 to 12.5 transplants/year, 12 institutions), and high-volume (>12.5 transplants/year, 8 institutions) tertiles. Unadjusted survival was significantly different at 30 days (p = 0.0087) in the low-volume tertile (94.2%; 95% confidence interval, 92.7% to 95.4%) compared with the high-volume tertile (96.8%; 95% confidence interval, 95.7% to 97.7%). No difference was observed at 1 or 5 years. Risk-adjusted Cox modeling demonstrated that low-volume institutions had an increased rate of mortality at 30 days (hazard ratio, 1.91; 95% confidence interval, 1.02 to 3.59; p = 0.044), but not at 1 or 5 years. High-volume institutions had lower incidences of postoperative complications than low-volume institutions (30.3% vs 38.4%, p < 0.001). Despite this difference in the rate of complications, survival in patients with a postoperative complication was similar across the volume tertiles. Conclusions No association was observed between institutional volume and adjusted or unadjusted long-term survival. High-volume institutions have a significantly lower rate of postoperative complications after pediatric OHT. This association does not correlate with increased subsequent mortality in low-volume institutions. Given these findings, strategies integral to the allocation of allografts in adult transplantation, such as regionalization of care, may not be as relevant to pediatric OHT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1423-1431
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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