Emergency abdominal surgery: surgeon volumes and survival outcomes


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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Emergency abdominal surgery (EAS) patients under the care of high-volume surgeons have better survival outcomes, according to a new study led by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. 

The study investigated the relationship between hospital or surgeon volume and mortality of patients undergoing EAS by examining data on 10,344 EAS episodes between 2014 and 2018 across 24 public hospitals in Ireland.  

High-volume surgical teams were categorised as those who performed more than 12 procedures a year during the five years of the study and low-volume teams performed less than six procedures each year. High-volume hospitals performed more than 90 procedures each year and low-volume hospitals performed less than 50 procedures.

A total of 798 in-hospital deaths occurred, giving an overall in-hospital mortality rate of 77 per 1,000 episodes. 

The authors reported that there was no statistically significant difference in adjusted mortality rates between low- and high-volume hospitals. 

However, low-volume surgical teams had a higher adjusted mortality rate (85.4 deaths/1,000 episodes) compared with high-volume teams (54.7 deaths/1,000 episodes), a difference that persisted among low-volume surgeons practising in high-volume hospitals.

The findings are published in the BMJ Open