Patterns of surgical practice in very low birth weight neonates born in the United States: a Vermont Oxford Network analysis
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BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: The distribution of surgical care of very low birth weight (VLBW) neonates among centers with varying specialized care remains unknown. This study quantifies operations performed on VLBW neonates nationally with respect to center type. METHODS: VLBW neonates born 2009-2012 were assessed using a prospectively collected multi-center database encompassing 80% of all VLBW neonates in the United States. Surgical centers were categorized based on availability of pediatric surgery (PS) and anesthesia (PA). RESULTS: 48,711 major procedures (29,512 abdominal operations) were performed on 24,318 neonates. Of all patients, 20,892 (85.9%) underwent surgery at centers with PS and PA available on site. 1663 (6.8%) patients were treated at centers with neither specialty on site. Neonates requiring complex operations were more likely to receive surgery at centers with both PS and PA on staff than those requiring non-complex operations (95.6% vs 93.6%). CONCLUSION: This study confirms that most operations on VLBW neonates in the U.S. are performed at centers with pediatric surgeons and anesthesiologists on staff. Further research is necessary, however, to elucidate why a significant minority of this challenging population continues to be managed at centers without pediatric specialists.
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