Sept. JVS: Vascular surgeons do higher percentage of AAA repairs

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The impact of endovascular repair on specialties performing abdominal aortic aneurysm repair.

Klaas H. J. Ultee, BSc,Rob Hurks, MD, PhD, Dominique B. Buck, MD, George S. DaSilva, BS, Peter A. Soden, MD,Joost A. van Herwaarden, MD, PhD, Hence J. M. Verhagen, MD, PhD, and Marc L. Schermerhorn, MD

Due to the increased use of EVAR for both intact and ruptured AAA repair, vascular surgeons are performing an increasing majority of AAA repairs, according to a new study reported in the September edition of Journal of Vascular 
Surgery.

The study examined the years 2001 through 2009 using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, the largest national administrative database, which is maintained by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality as part of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project.

After 2009 the surgeon identification variables in the database were discontinued so more recent data were unavailable for the study.

“We do plan to analyze (this same subject) using Medicare data,” according to Dr. Marc L. Schermerhorn, “but our access to it lags several years behind. It will allow better risk adjustment as well.”

The study was interested in AAA repairs by the following types of physicians: vascular surgeons, general surgeons, cardiac surgeons, as well as nonsurgical specialists such as interventional cardiologists and interventional radiologists.

Overall, 108,587 EVARS and 85,080 open AAA repairs were identified. Of all repairs, 61 percent were performed by vascular surgeons, 20 percent by general surgeons, and 16 percent by cardiac surgeons. ICs and IRs performed the remaining 3 percent.

Significantly, the absolute number of vascular surgeons performing AAA repair increased 30 percent during the study period, whereas the number of GS and CS repairs decreased 46 and 30 percent, respectively.

AAA repairs are still done by general surgeons and cardiovascular surgeons; however, in those cases, patients are less likely to receive EVAR.

Researchers also found that whether patients received open or endovascular repair varied with the type of surgeon, but also by the patient’s gender, emergent admission, and race.

Other influencing factors were age of patient, treatment in a teaching hospital, year, and whether or not the hospital was in an urban area.

“The big question,” Schermerhorn noted, “is whether specialty has an influence on outcomes. We chose not to try to analyze this using this database because we did not think we could adequately do risk adjustment. It is difficult to distinguish a pre-existing condition from a post-op complication, for example, renal failure.”

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