ANZ Journal of Surgery

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Soft tissue balancing in total knee arthroplasty using sensor-guided assessment: is there a learning curve?

February 19, 2018 - 12:55
Background

Sensor-guided assessment for soft tissue balance in total knee arthroplasty (TKA) has been reported to improve patient satisfaction and self-reported outcome scores. As more surgeons adopt this technology in TKA, we performed this study to identify if there is a learning curve with its use.

Methods

Analysis of a total of 90 consecutive cases was performed in this study. Initial and final intercompartmental pressure differences were recorded before and after knee ligament balancing. The first 45 patients (group 1) were compared to the last 45 patients (group 2) in terms of operative time and the final state of knee balance. A balanced knee was defined as pressure difference between medial and lateral compartments of ≤15 pounds.

Results

Group 1 had 10 unbalanced knees in the final pressure difference assessment, while all cases in group 2 were balanced (P < 0.001). There was no statistically significant difference in mean operative time between the two groups. A scatter plot of intercompartmental pressure difference identified that after 30 cases, the capacity to achieve knee ligament balance improved.

Conclusion

This study suggests that there is a learning curve with the use of sensor-guided assessment in TKA in achieving knee balance; however, the differences noted between initial and final groups were small and may not be of clinical significance.

Establishing a successful perioperative geriatric service in an Australian acute surgical unit

February 19, 2018 - 12:55
Background

The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of a perioperative geriatric service (PGS) in an acute surgical unit (ASU) on patient and organizational outcomes.

Methods

Single centre retrospective cohort study. Inclusion criteria were patients over the age of 65 admitted to the ASU between January and June 2014 (pre-PGS) and 2015 (post-PGS). Chart reviews were performed to identify outcomes of interest including in-hospital morbidity and mortality, length of stay (LOS), 30-day representation and mortality.

Results

Geriatric admissions increased by 32% over the two study periods (154 pre-PGS and 203 post-PGS). Surgical intervention increased by 11% (P = 0.01). Significantly more medical complications (14% versus 33%, P < 0.001) were identified after the implementation of the PGS. Recognition of delirium in the over 80s also increased by 57%. Rate of surgical complications was unchanged over the study (28% pre-PGS and 34% post-PGS, P = 0.6). In-hospital (<1%, P = 0.5) and 30-day mortality (<1%, P = 0.6) remained low, as did 30-day representation (10% versus 8%, P = 0.5). A trend towards decreased LOS of 1 day was identified after the implementation of the PGS (P = 0.07).

Conclusion

This study demonstrated successful implementation of a PGS into an ASU. This multi-disciplinary approach has been effective in maintaining low numbers of surgical complications, in-hospital mortality, LOS and patient representations despite an increased number of medical complications. This likely reflects more timely recognition and intervention of medically unwell patients with the PGS.

Body weight change is unpredictable after total thyroidectomy

February 15, 2018 - 10:31
Background

There is a common perception that total thyroidectomy causes weight gain beyond expected age-related changes, even when thyroid replacement therapy induces a euthyroid state. The aim of this study was to determine whether patients who underwent total thyroidectomy for a wide spectrum of conditions experienced weight gain following surgery.

Methods

We retrospectively studied 107 consecutive total thyroidectomy patients treated between January 2013 and June 2014. Medical records were reviewed to determine underlying pathology, thyroid status, use of antithyroid drugs and preoperative weight. Follow-up data were obtained from 79 patients at least 10 months post-operatively to determine current weight, the type of clinician managing thyroid replacement therapy and patient satisfaction with post-thyroidectomy management.

Results

The cohort was 73% female, with a mean age of 55.8 ± 15.7 years and a mean preoperative weight of 78.8 ± 17.5 kg. Commonest pathologies were multinodular goitre, Graves’ disease, thyroid cancer and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Preoperatively, 63.2% of patients were hyperthyroid. Mean weight change at follow-up was a non-significant increase of 0.06 ± 6.9 kg (P = 0.094). Weight change was not significant regardless of preoperative thyroid function status. This study did not demonstrate any significant differences in clinical characteristics (including post-operative thyroid-stimulating hormone) between the group with >2% weight gain and those who did not.

Conclusions

This study did not reveal significant weight gain following thyroidectomy for a wide spectrum of pathologies. Specifically, preoperative hyperthyroidism, female gender and use of antithyroid medications do not predict weight gain after thyroid surgery.

Morbidity and mortality meetings: gold, silver or bronze?

February 12, 2018 - 12:31
Abstract Background

Morbidity and mortality (M&M) meetings contribute to surgical education and improvements in patient care through the review of surgical outcomes; however, they often lack defined structure, objectives and resource support. The aim of this study was to investigate the factors that impact the effective conduct of M&M meetings.

Methods

We conducted a rapid systematic literature review. Three biomedical databases (PubMed, the Cochrane Library and the University of York Centre for Reviews and Dissemination), clinical practice guideline clearinghouses and grey literature sources were searched from May 2009 to September 2016. Studies that evaluated the function of a hospital-based M&M process were included. Two independent reviewers conducted study selection and data extraction. Study details and key findings were reported narratively.

Results

Nineteen studies identified enablers, and seven identified barriers, to the effective conduct of M&M meetings. Enabling factors for effective M&M meetings included a structured meeting format, a structured case identification and presentation, and a systems focus. Absence of key personnel from meetings, lack of education regarding the meeting process, poor perceptions of the process, logistical issues and heterogeneity in case evaluation were identified as barriers to effective M&M meetings.

Conclusion

Taking steps to standardize and incorporate the enabling factors into M&M meetings will ensure that the valuable time spent reviewing M&M is used effectively to improve patient care.

Usefulness of Rapiplug in nipple reconstruction to improve nipple projection

February 9, 2018 - 14:57
Background

The final stage of breast reconstruction after mastectomy for breast cancer is nipple reconstruction. However, a consistent and reliable method resulting in the most ideal aesthetic results has yet to be clarified. This study analysed the long-term outcomes of nipple reconstruction using Rapiplug.

Methods

Forty-one patients who underwent immediate breast reconstruction after mastectomy between January 2014 and February 2017 were enrolled. Nipple reconstruction was performed with C-V flap and Hammond flap, and hat-shaped Rapiplug was implanted at the flap core. Nipple projection and width were measured and nipple reduction rates were calculated immediately after and at 3, 6, and 12 months after surgery. Patient satisfaction was surveyed at the 12-month follow-up and compared with patient characteristics and other variables.

Results

Forty-one nipple reconstructions were performed in 41 patients. Most post-operative adverse events were resolved with conservative management, and revision was performed in only one case. The mean nipple projections were 8.9 ± 1.8, 7 ± 1.8, 5.6 ± 1.6 and 4.9 ± 1.6 mm immediately, and 3, 6 and 12 months after surgery, respectively, and the mean reduction rate of nipple size with reference to the size immediately after surgery was 22.2%, 37.2% and 44.7% at 3, 6 and 12 months after surgery, respectively. Patient satisfaction was 82.9% in overall outcome, and 85.3% of projection was good or excellent.

Conclusion

Rapiplug can improve the long-term preservation of nipple projection after nipple reconstruction and is considered to be consistent and reliable with good aesthetic outcomes and no severe complications.

Variability of perioperative mortality of hepatic resection in Australia

February 9, 2018 - 13:25
Background

Hepatic resection is a relatively young and complex specialized procedure. A strong relationship between volume and perioperative mortality has been reported internationally. However, there has been no multicentre study into hepatic resection in Australia. This retrospective, population-based cohort study was conducted to determine national, state and territory based volume and perioperative mortality rates (POMRs).

Methods

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data was interrogated for the Australian Classification of Health Intervention codes for hepatic resection defined as extended hemi-hepatectomy (30421), hemi-hepatectomy (30418), segmental hepatic resection (30415) and sub-segmental hepatic resection (30414). Logistic regression analysis was performed using the de-identified data to investigate trends and differences between states/territories. Mortality rates were risk adjusted for age, gender and public or private admission. The data set included patients who underwent hepatic resection in the financial years 2005/2006 to 2012/2013.

Results

The overall POMR for all types of hepatic resection was 1.6% (201/12 562). There was no significant change in POMR over time. However, there was significant variation between the states and territories with two states having significantly higher POMR for major hepatic resections (regional range: 1.3–3.8%). POMRs increased with age with the highest mortality seen in the 75–79 year age group. The POMR was lower in private than in public hospitals.

Conclusion

The results of this study confirm that the overall Australian POMR for major hepatic resection is similar to results reported internationally. National and state/territory POMR has not varied significantly over time. The significant variation between states/territories warrants further investigation.

Audit of 117 otoplasties for prominent ear by one surgeon using a cartilage-cutting procedure

February 8, 2018 - 10:31
Background

The plethora of surgical procedures for prominent ear correction reflects lack of satisfaction with outcomes achieved. This paper describes a cartilage-cutting otoplasty procedure and reports an audit of its outcomes.

Methods

Discharge coding was used to retrospectively identify patients who had undergone the otoplasty of interest at Middlemore Hospital, Auckland, during the 5 years from March 2010 to the end of February 2015. Hospital records were accessed. Demographic, procedure and patient satisfaction data were recorded and analysed (PASW/SPSS Statistics 18.0). Chi-square test and t-test were used to assess associations, with significance accepted at two-sided P < 0.05.

Results

Sixty-four patients underwent the specified otoplasty (54.7% females: mean age 9.5 years (standard deviation, SD: 4.2; range: 4–20)), of whom 93.8% had bilateral procedures with mean surgical time of 61 min (SD: 14; range: 34–94). This was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) than for bilateral surgeries by all other techniques and surgeons in the review period. None of the 117 procedures of interest subsequently had suture extrusion or revision surgery. Mean time from surgery to satisfaction determination was 993 days (SD: 521; range: 111–1850) for 43 (67.2%) patients. 23.3% believed that there had been aesthetically insignificant partial recurrence of prominence, typically of one ear only. This was insufficient for all but one patient to consider repeat otoplasty. Surgery outcome was rated ‘very satisfactory’ and ‘satisfactory’ by 90.7% and 9.3% of patients/parents, respectively. All would recommend the surgery to others.

Conclusion

With infrequent complications and recurrence requiring revision, and without long-term reliance on sutures, the otoplasty reported is time-efficient, safe and generates high patient satisfaction.

Clinical characteristics affecting length of stay in patients with cellulitis

February 8, 2018 - 10:30
Background

This study aimed to profile the clinical characteristics of patients presenting to Middlemore Hospital with cellulitis in order to identify factors that are associated with an increased length of stay (LOS).

Methods

Retrospective clinical data were collected for all patients aged 18 and above who were admitted with cellulitis to Middlemore Hospital General Surgical Department between 1 January and 31 March 2014. Comorbidities, laboratory results and medical conditions were included in the investigation.

Results

The study included 201 patients. Significant factors associated with increased LOS include type 2 diabetes mellitus (P < 0.012), obesity (P < 0.001), raised C-reactive protein (P < 0.0001), raised white cell count (P < 0.0001), raised temperature (P < 0.0001), septic shock (P < 0.003), multiorgan failure (P < 0.01), extended-spectrum beta-lactamases or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus colonization (P < 0.04) and intensive care unit admission (P < 0.0004).

Conclusion

This single-centre, retrospective clinical study has identified several factors that are significantly associated with an increased LOS. These factors provide a basis for future studies that may facilitate identification and timely medical optimization of high-risk patients.

Pulse oximetric assessment of anatomical vascular contribution to tissue perfusion in the gastric conduit

February 7, 2018 - 19:30
Background

Tubularized stomach is a common substitute used after oesophageal resection. The risk for gastric conduit ischemia, as well as the mechanisms and dynamics for the occurrence of deficient tissue perfusion during the critical construction of a gastric tube, is poorly understood.

Methods

Twenty-nine patients that underwent oesophagectomy were studied with transmural pulse oximetry of different parts of the stomach, and at predefined preparatory steps during the construction of the gastric conduit.

Results

After ligation of the left gastric artery (LGA), a reduction to 83.5% in tissue saturation was observed. Three patients (10.3%) had a sustained saturation despite ligation at this point. During final preparation of the gastric tube, and after stapling of the minor curvature, saturation fell to 76.5%. Saturation increased significantly to 80.0% 2 h after the stapling, just before construction of the anastomosis (P = 0.021). There was no association between the level of oxygen saturation and the risk of anastomotic dehiscence.

Conclusion

During gastric tube construction for oesophageal replacement, conduit perfusion, measured as oxygen saturation with pulse oximetry, decreases significantly. The main cause of this reduction seems to be ligation of the LGA and the final stapling of the gastric tube. Future studies are needed to establish the clinical implications of this finding.

Leaving surgical training: some of the reasons are in surgery

February 7, 2018 - 19:30

In 2014, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons identified, through internal analysis, a considerable attrition rate within its Surgical Education and Training programme. Within the attrition cohort, choosing to leave accounted for the majority. Women were significantly over-represented. It was considered important to study these ‘leavers’ if possible. An external group with medical education expertise were engaged to do this, a report that is now published and titled ‘A study exploring the reasons for and experiences of leaving surgical training’. During this time, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons came under serious external review, leading to the development of the Action Plan on Discrimination, Bullying and Sexual Harassment in the Practice of Surgery, known as the Building Respect, Improving Patient Safety (BRIPS) action plan. The ‘Leaving Training Report’, which involved nearly one-half of all voluntary ‘leavers’, identified three major themes that were pertinent to leaving surgical training. Of these, one was about surgery itself: the complexity, the technical, decision-making and lifestyle demands, the emotional aspects of dealing with seriously sick patients and the personal toll of all of this. This narrative literature review investigates these aspects of surgical education from the trainees’ perspective.

Neoadjuvant radiotherapy provided survival benefit compared to adjuvant radiotherapy for hepatocellular carcinoma

February 5, 2018 - 15:50
Background

This study compared the impact of neoadjuvant radiotherapy (RT) and adjuvant RT on survival for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Methods

Patients with HCC were identified from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database. The Kaplan–Meier method and multivariate Cox regression analysis were used to compare the impact of neoadjuvant RT on survival with adjuvant RT. Subsequently, a propensity score-matched analysis was performed to confirm the result.

Results

A total of 244 patients with HCC identified from the SEER database (2004–2014) received preoperative or post-operative radiation. A total of 151 patients received post-operative RT and 93 patients received preoperative RT. Preoperative RT had a clear superiority in terms of unadjusted overall survival and cancer-specific survival (P < 0.001 for log-rank test). After adjusting for confounding variables, hazard ratios (HRs) for all-cause (HR: 0.33; 95% CI: 0.19–0.53, P < 0.001) and cancer-specific (HR: 0.32; 95% CI: 0.19–0.53, P < 0.001) mortality risks in preoperative RT group were significantly lower than that of post-operative RT group. Subsequently, a propensity score-matched analysis was performed to confirm this result. Further univariate and multivariate survival analyses revealed that there was a persistent superiority of overall survival and cancer-specific survival in patients who received preoperative radiation than patients without RT.

Conclusion

We found that neoadjuvant RT was associated with improved long-term survival for patients with HCC versus adjuvant RT.

Effects of early antiplatelet therapy after splenectomy with gastro-oesophageal devascularization

February 3, 2018 - 17:16
Background

This study aimed to explore the effects of early antiplatelet therapy (APT) for portal vein thrombosis (PVT) in patients with cirrhotic portal hypertension after splenectomy with gastro-oesophageal devascularization.

Methods

We retrospectively analysed 139 patients who underwent splenectomy with gastro-oesophageal devascularization for portal hypertension due to cirrhosis between April 2010 and December 2016. Based on the post-operative platelet values, we used two different APT regimens: APT was started when platelet counts were increased to 200 × 109/L or above (group A, n = 64) or 300 × 109/L or above (group B, n = 75). We took note of the patients’ clinical symptoms, operative factors and biochemical indicators.

Results

Platelet count, mean platelet volume, D-dimer and pancreatic fistula were closely related to the development of PVT. Early APT was an independent protective factor for PVT. The incidence of post-operative PVT was 15.1% (21/139) overall, 4.7% (3/64) in group A and 24% (18/75) in group B; there was a significant difference between groups A and B (χ2 = 10.042, P = 0.002).

Conclusion

Platelet count, mean platelet volume, D-dimer and pancreatic fistula were independent risk factors for the development of PVT after splenectomy with gastro-oesophageal devascularization. Selection of the appropriate timing for early APT according to the post-operative platelet count was feasible. Moreover, the use of aspirin combined with dipyridamole was safe and effective for early prevention of PVT.

Arm morbidity of axillary dissection with sentinel node biopsy versus delayed axillary dissection

February 2, 2018 - 19:25
Background

Staging of axillary lymph nodes in breast cancer is important for prognostication and planning of adjuvant therapy. The traditional practice of proceeding to axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) if sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is positive is being challenged and clinical trials are underway. For many centres, this will mean a move away from intra-operative SLNB assessment and utilization of a second procedure to perform ALND. It is sometimes perceived that a delayed ALND results in increased tissue damage and thus increased morbidity. We compared morbidity in those undergoing SLNB only, or ALND as a one- or two-stage procedure.

Methods

A retrospective review of a prospectively collected institutional database was used to review rates of lymphoedema and shoulder function in women undergoing breast cancer surgery between 2008 and 2012.

Results

The overall lymphoedema rate in 745 patients was 8.2% at 12 months. There was no difference in lymphoedema rates between those undergoing immediate or delayed ALND (17.8 and 8.6%, respectively, P = 0.092). Post-operative shoulder elevation, odds ratio (OR) = 0.390, 95% confidence interval (CI) = (0.218, 0.698) and abduction, OR = 0.437 (95% CI = (0.271, 0.705)) were reduced if an ALND was performed although there was no difference between immediate or delayed.

Conclusion

ALND remains a risk factor for post-operative morbidity. There is no increased risk of lymphoedema or shoulder function deficit with a positive SLNB and delayed ALND compared to immediate ALND.