Fast-track paediatric cardiac surgery: the feasibility and benefits of a protocol for uncomplicated cases

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Abstract

Objective: Fast-track patient pathways for cardiac surgery are used in adult practice and by necessity is a mainstay in the developing world. We aimed to introduce a fast-track protocol for uncomplicated paediatric open-heart surgery cases and to subsequently review the results of this change in practice. Methods: A fast-track protocol co-ordinated by the Advanced Nurse Practitioners was introduced in January 2006 for children aged over 6 months undergoing uncomplicated open-heart procedures. We conducted a review of prospectively collected data on all included patients. The setting was a tertiary paediatric cardiac surgical centre in the UK. The outcome measures for audit were: patient fitness to leave the intensive care unit (ICU) on the day of surgery and hospital length of stay. Results: Included children had a mean age 6 (standard deviation (SD) 4.9) years and mean weight 22.7 (SD 17.6) kg. Of the 194 patients included, 153 (79%) were fit to leave the ICU on the day of surgery. Patients undergoing surgery for ventricular septal defect: odds ratio (OR) 2.8 (95% CI: 1.2-5.6) P = 0.01 and left ventricular outflow tract obstruction: OR 5.5 (95% CI: 1.4-21.2) P = 0.01, were more likely to be unfit than atrial septal defect and right ventricular outflow tract obstruction. Patients undergoing surgery in the afternoon were more likely to be unfit than those undergoing surgery in the morning: OR 2.3 (95% CI: 1.2-4.8) P = 0.03. No relationship was found between age or weight and fitness to fast track. Median length of hospital stay for the whole cohort was 3 (range: 2-11) days. After adjustment for case mix, there was significant evidence that length of hospital stay reduced as experience with the protocol increased over the series of patients RC -0.02 (95% CI: -0.01 to -0.03) P < 0.01. Conclusion: A fast-track programme can be implemented safely and effectively if the appropriate support including a step-down ward area is put in place. Greater experience with this type of protocol leads to reductions in the length of hospital stay for children aged over 6 months undergoing uncomplicated open-heart surgery. Fast-track cases should be performed in the morning. © 2009 European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery.

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Howard, F., Brown, K. L., Garside, V., Walker, I., & Elliott, M. J. (2010). Fast-track paediatric cardiac surgery: the feasibility and benefits of a protocol for uncomplicated cases. European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, 37(1), 193–196. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejcts.2009.06.039

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