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The aims of this study were to investigate risk factors for the development of postoperative chylothorax following paediatric congenital heart surgery and to investigate the impact of a management guideline on management strategies and patient outcome.
All patients with chylothorax following cardiac surgery at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, over a 48-month period beginning in January 2008 were identified. A control group, matched for age, date of surgery, and sex, was identified. To investigate potential risk factors, univariable and multivariable logistic regression models were constructed with paired analysis. To examine the effect of a standardised management protocol, data before and after the implementation of the guideline were compared.
In total, 121 cases of chylothorax were identified, with 121 controls, matched for age at surgery, date of surgery, and sex. The incidence of chylothorax was 5.23%. Increasing surgical complexity (univariable OR 0.17 for the least complex versus the most complex group, p=0.02), closed-heart surgeries (OR 0.07 for open versus closed, p<0.001), and redo chest incisions (OR 10.0 for redo versus virgin, p<0.001) were significantly associated with chylothorax. The standardised management protocol had no significant impact on either drainage duration or management strategy.
We have replicated the previously reported association between surgical complexity and chylothorax risk, and have shown, for the first time, that redo chest openings are also associated with a significantly increased risk. The implementation of a standardised management protocol in our institution did not result in a significant change in either chylothorax drainage duration or management strategy.
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