Why are patients being readmitted after surgery for esophageal cancer?

Sneha P. Shah, Tim Xu, Craig M. Hooker, Alicia Hulbert, Richard J. Battafarano, Malcolm V. Brock, Benedetto Mungo, Daniela Molena, Stephen C. Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objective Readmission after surgery is an unwanted adverse event that is costly to the healthcare system. We sought to evaluate factors associated with increased risk of readmission and to characterize the nature of these readmissions in patients who have esophageal cancer. Methods A retrospective cohort study was performed in 306 patients with esophageal carcinoma who underwent neoadjuvant chemoradiation followed by esophagectomy at Johns Hopkins Hospital between 1993 and 2011. Logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with 30-day readmission. Readmissions were defined as inpatient admissions to our institution within 30 days of discharge. Results The median age at surgery was 61 years; the median postoperative length of stay was 9 days; and 48% of patients had ≥1 postoperative complication (POC). The 30-day readmission rate was 13.7% (42 of 306). In univariate analysis, length of stay and having ≥1 POC were significantly associated with readmission. In multivariate analysis, having ≥1 POC was significantly associated with a >2-fold increase in risk for 30-day readmission (odds ratio 2.35, with 95% confidence interval [1.08-5.09], P = .031) when controlling for age at diagnosis and length of stay. Of the 42 patients who were readmitted, 67% experienced POCs after surgery; 50% of patients who experienced POCs were readmitted for reasons related to their postoperative complication. The most common reasons for readmission were pulmonary issues (29%), anastomotic complications (20%), gastrointestinal concerns (17%), and venous thromboembolism (14%). Conclusions Complications not adequately managed before discharge may lead to readmission. Quality improvement efforts surrounding venous thromboembolism prophylaxis, and discharging patients nothing-by-mouth, may be warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9366
Pages (from-to)1384-1391
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Esophageal cancer
  • Length of stay
  • Multimodality therapy
  • Neoadjuvant chemoradiation plus surgery
  • Outcomes
  • Postoperative complications
  • Thirty-day readmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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