Many population-based studies identify surgical complications using hospital discharge abstract databases (DAD). With DAD, however, complications occurring after the discharge date cannot be followed up. This study used physician claims data to identify the complications of partial nephrectomy, and to compare the rates of complications of open, laparoscopic, and robot-assisted nephrectomies.
Physician claims, DAD, and ambulatory care data from April 2003 to March 2016 were provided by Alberta Health. DAD and ambulatory care data were used to extract information on patients with kidney cancer who underwent partial nephrectomy. All physician claims within 30 days before and after surgery for the cohort were extracted. The numbers of the same International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9), codes before and after surgery were compared. If a number increased after surgery, this diagnosis was initially identified as a complication. All diagnoses with neoplasms were excluded. The incidence rates of complications for the three surgery groups were calculated. Chi-squared tests were conducted for the following nephrectomy comparisons: laparoscopic versus open; robot-assisted versus open; and robot-assisted versus laparoscopic.
A total of 1,890 kidney cancer patients had partial nephrectomies. Among them, 1,080, 411, and 399 had open, laparoscopic, and robot-assisted nephrectomies, respectively. One patient who had two different nephrectomies on the same day was excluded from analysis. The robot-assisted group had lower rates of digestive complications (ICD-9: 537–578, 787, 789, 998.6) and infections (ICD-9: 004–041, 998.5) than the open group, and higher rates of genitourinary complications (ICD-9: 584–599, 788, 997.5) than the laparoscopy group. The robot-assisted group had lower rates than the open group for most of the complication categories, but the differences were not statistically significant.
Robot-assisted surgery appears to be superior to open surgery, but no better than laparoscopic surgery, in terms of minimizing the risk of complications following partial nephrectomy.