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Registry-based trials have emerged as a potentially cost-saving study methodology. Early estimates of cost savings, however, conflated the benefits associated with registry utilisation and those associated with other aspects of pragmatic trial designs, which might not all be as broadly applicable. In this study, we sought to build a practical tool that investigators could use across disciplines to estimate the ranges of potential cost differences associated with implementing registry-based trials versus standard clinical trials.
We built simulation Markov models to compare unique costs associated with data acquisition, cleaning, and linkage under a registry-based trial design versus a standard clinical trial. We conducted one-way, two-way, and probabilistic sensitivity analyses, varying study characteristics over broad ranges, to determine thresholds at which investigators might optimally select each trial design.
Registry-based trials were more cost effective than standard clinical trials 98.6% of the time. Data-related cost savings ranged from $4300 to $600,000 with variation in study characteristics. Cost differences were most reactive to the number of patients in a study, the number of data elements per patient available in a registry, and the speed with which research coordinators could manually abstract data. Registry incorporation resulted in cost savings when as few as 3768 independent data elements were available and when manual data abstraction took as little as 3.4 seconds per data field.
Registries offer important resources for investigators. When available, their broad incorporation may help the scientific community reduce the costs of clinical investigation. We offer here a practical tool for investigators to assess potential costs savings.
The Single Ventricle Reconstruction Trial randomised neonates with hypoplastic left heart syndrome to a shunt strategy but otherwise retained standard of care. We aimed to describe centre-level practice variation at Fontan completion.
Centre-level data are reported as median or median frequency across all centres and range of medians or frequencies across centres. Classification and regression tree analysis assessed the association of centre-level factors with length of stay and percentage of patients with prolonged pleural effusion (>7 days).
The median Fontan age (14 centres, 320 patients) was 3.1 years (range from 1.7 to 3.9), and the weight-for-age z-score was −0.56 (−1.35 + 0.44). Extra-cardiac Fontans were performed in 79% (4–100%) of patients at the 13 centres performing this procedure; lateral tunnels were performed in 32% (3–100%) at the 11 centres performing it. Deep hypothermic circulatory arrest (nine centres) ranged from 6 to 100%. Major complications occurred in 17% (7–33%). The length of stay was 9.5 days (9–12); 15% (6–33%) had prolonged pleural effusion. Centres with fewer patients (<6%) with prolonged pleural effusion and fewer (<41%) complications had a shorter length of stay (<10 days; sensitivity 1.0; specificity 0.71; area under the curve 0.96). Avoiding deep hypothermic circulatory arrest and higher weight-for-age z-score were associated with a lower percentage of patients with prolonged effusions (<9.5%; sensitivity 1.0; specificity = 0.86; area under the curve 0.98).
Fontan perioperative practices varied widely among study centres. Strategies to decrease the duration of pleural effusion and minimise complications may decrease the length of stay. Further research regarding deep hypothermic circulatory arrest is needed to understand its association with prolonged pleural effusion.
The Single Ventricle Reconstruction trial randomised neonates with hypoplastic left heart syndrome to a systemic-to-pulmonary-artery shunt strategy. Patients received care according to usual institutional practice. We analysed practice variation at the Stage II surgery to attempt to identify areas for decreased variation and process control improvement.
Prospectively collected data were available in the Single Ventricle Reconstruction public-use database. Practice variation across 14 centres was described for 397 patients who underwent Stage II surgery. Data are centre-level specific and reported as interquartile ranges across all centres, unless otherwise specified.
Preoperative Stage II median age and weight across centres were 5.4 months (interquartile range 4.9–5.7) and 5.7 kg (5.5–6.1), with 70% performed electively. Most patients had pre-Stage-II cardiac catheterisation (98.5–100%). Digoxin was used by 11/14 centres in 25% of patients (23–31%), and 81% had some oral feeds (68–84%). The majority of the centres (86%) performed a bidirectional Glenn versus hemi-Fontan. Median cardiopulmonary bypass time was 96 minutes (75–113). In aggregate, 26% of patients had deep hypothermic circulatory arrest >10 minutes. In 13/14 centres using deep hypothermic circulatory arrest, 12.5% of patients exceeded 10 minutes (8–32%). Seven centres extubated 5% of patients (2–40) in the operating room. Postoperatively, ICU length of stay was 4.8 days (4.0–5.3) and total length of stay was 7.5 days (6–10).
In the Single Ventricle Reconstruction Trial, practice varied widely among centres for nearly all perioperative factors surrounding Stage II. Further analysis may facilitate establishing best practices by identifying the impact of practice variation.
Our primary goal was to decrease time to resolution of postoperative chylothorax as demonstrated by total days of chest tube utilisation through development and implementation of a management protocol.
A chylothorax management protocol was implemented as a quality improvement project at a tertiary-care paediatric hospital in July, 2015. Retrospective analysis was completed on patients aged 0–17 years diagnosed with chylothorax within 30 days of cardiac surgery in a pre-protocol cohort (February, 2014 to June, 2015, n=20) and a post-protocol cohort (July, 2015 to March, 2016, n=22).
Measurements and results
Patient characteristics were similar before and after protocol implementation. Duration of mechanical ventilation and cardiac ICU and hospital lengths of stay were unchanged between cohorts. Following protocol implementation, total duration of chest tube utilisation decreased from 12 to 7 days (p=0.047) with a decrease in maximum days of chest tube utilisation from 44 to 13 days. Duration of medium-chain triglyceride feeds decreased from 42 days to 31 days (p=0.01). In total, three patients in the post-protocol cohort underwent additional surgical procedures to treat chylothorax with subsequent resolution of chylothorax within 24 hours. There were no chest tube re-insertions or re-admissions related to chylothorax in either the pre- or post-protocol cohorts. Protocol compliance was 81%.
Adoption of a chylothorax management protocol is feasible, and in our small cohort of patients implementation led to a significant decrease in the duration of chest tube utilisation, while eliminating practice variability among providers.
This study evaluates the morbidity, mortality, and cost differences between patients who underwent either a simple or a complex arterial switch operation.
A retrospective study of patients undergoing an arterial switch operation at a single institution was performed. Simple cases were defined as patients with d-transposition of the great arteries with usual coronary anatomy or circumflex artery originating from the right with either intact ventricular septum or ventricular septal defect. Complex cases included all other forms of coronary anatomy, aortic coarctation or arch hypoplasia, and Taussig–Bing anomalies. Costs were acquired using an institutional activity-based accounting system.
A total of 98 patients were identified, 68 patients in the simple group and 30 in the complex group. The mortality rate was 2% for the simple and 7% for the complex group, p=0.23. Major morbidities including cardiac arrest, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a major coronary event, surgical or catheter-based re-intervention, stroke, or permanent pacemaker placement, non-cardiac surgical procedures, mediastinitis, and sepsis did not differ between the simple and complex groups (16 versus 27%, p=0.16). The complex group had increased bleeding requiring re-exploration (0 versus 10%, p=0.04). Hospital and ICU length of stay did not differ. Complex patients had higher overall hospital costs (simple $80,749 versus complex $97,387, p=0.01) and higher postoperative costs (simple $60,192 versus complex $70,132, p=0.02). The operating room and supplies accounted for the majority of the cost difference.
Complex arterial switches can be safely performed with low rates of morbidity and mortality but at an increased cost.
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