Original Research| Volume 36, ISSUE 1, P208-214, January 2022

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Clinical and Financial Outcomes Associated With Vocal Fold Paralysis in Congenital Cardiac Surgery

Published:March 08, 2021DOI:


      Vocal fold paralysis (VFP) has proven to increase resource use in several surgical fields. However, its burden in congenital cardiac surgery, a specialty known to be associated with high resource use, has not yet been examined. The authors aimed to assess the impact of VFP on costs, lengths of stay, and readmissions following congenital cardiac surgery.


      A retrospective analysis of administrative data.


      The 2010-2017 National Readmissions Database.


      All pediatric patients undergoing congenital cardiac surgery.



      Measurements and Main Results

      Vocal fold paralysis was defined using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth and Tenth Revisions, diagnosis codes. The primary outcome of interest was 30-day nonelective readmissions and 90-day readmissions; costs, length of stay, and discharge status also were considered. Of an estimated 124,486 patients meeting study criteria, 2,868 (2.3%) were identified with VFP. Incidence of VFP increased during the study period (0.7% in 2010 to 3.2% in 2017, nptrend < 0.001). Rates of nonhome discharge (30.0% v 16.4%, p < 0.001), 30-day readmission (23.9% v 12.4%, p < 0.001), and 90-day readmission (8.3% v 4.4%, p = 0.03) were increased in the VFP cohort, as were lengths of stay (42.1 v 27.0 days, p < 0.001) and costs ($196,000 v $128,000, p < 0.001). After adjustment for patient and hospital factors, VFP was independently associated with greater odds of nonhome discharge (adjusted odds ratios [AOR], 1.66, 95% CI, 1.14-2.40), 30-day readmission (AOR, 1.58, 95% CI, 1.03-2.42), 90-day readmission (AOR, 2.07, 95% CI, 1.22-3.52), longer lengths of stay (+ 6.1 days, 95% CI, 1.3-10.8), and higher hospitalization costs (+$22,000, 95% CI, 3,000-39,000).


      Readmission rates after congenital cardiac surgery are significantly greater among those with VFP, as are costs, lengths of stay, and nonhome discharges. Therefore, further efforts are necessary to increase awareness and reduce the incidence of VFP in this vulnerable population to minimize the financial burden of congenital cardiac surgery on the US medical system.

      Key Words

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