Congenital Heart Surgery Case Mix Across North American Centers and Impact on Performance Assessment

Sara K. Pasquali, Amelia S. Wallace, J. William Gaynor, Marshall L. Jacobs, Sean M. O'Brien, Kevin D. Hill, Michael G. Gaies, Jennifer C. Romano, David M. Shahian, John E. Mayer, Jeffrey P. Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background Performance assessment in congenital heart surgery is challenging due to the wide heterogeneity of disease. We describe current case mix across centers, evaluate methodology inclusive of all cardiac operations versus the more homogeneous subset of Society of Thoracic Surgeons benchmark operations, and describe implications regarding performance assessment. Methods Centers (n = 119) participating in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Congenital Heart Surgery Database (2010 through 2014) were included. Index operation type and frequency across centers were described. Center performance (risk-adjusted operative mortality) was evaluated and classified when including the benchmark versus all eligible operations. Results Overall, 207 types of operations were performed during the study period (112,140 total cases). Few operations were performed across all centers; only 25% were performed at least once by 75% or more of centers. There was 7.9-fold variation across centers in the proportion of total cases comprising high-complexity cases (STAT 5). In contrast, the benchmark operations made up 36% of cases, and all but 2 were performed by at least 90% of centers. When evaluating performance based on benchmark versus all operations, 15% of centers changed performance classification; 85% remained unchanged. Benchmark versus all operation methodology was associated with lower power, with 35% versus 78% of centers meeting sample size thresholds. Conclusions There is wide variation in congenital heart surgery case mix across centers. Metrics based on benchmark versus all operations are associated with strengths (less heterogeneity) and weaknesses (lower power), and lead to differing performance classification for some centers. These findings have implications for ongoing efforts to optimize performance assessment, including choice of target population and appropriate interpretation of reported metrics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1580-1587
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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