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Trenner, Matthias; Kuehnl, Andreas; Salvermoser, Michael; Reutersberg, Benedikt; Geisbuesch, Sarah; Schmid, Volker J. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2195-8130 and Eckstein, Hans Henning (February 2018): Editor's Choice – High Annual Hospital Volume is Associated with Decreased in Hospital Mortality and Complication Rates Following Treatment of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms: Secondary Data Analysis of the Nationwide German DRG Statistics from 2005 to 2013. In: European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Vol. 55, No. 2: pp. 185-194

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Objectives The aim of this study was to analyse the association between annual hospital procedural volume and post-operative outcomes following repair of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) in Germany.

Methods Data were extracted from nationwide Diagnosis Related Group (DRG) statistics provided by the German Federal Statistical Office. Cases with a diagnosis of AAA (ICD-10 GM I71.3, I71.4) and procedure codes for endovascular aortic repair (EVAR; OPS 5–38a.1*) or open aortic repair (OAR; OPS 5–38.45, 5–38.47) treated between 2005 and 2013 were included. Hospitals were empirically grouped to quartiles depending on the overall annual volume of AAA procedures. A multilevel multivariable regression model was applied to adjust for sex, medical risk, type of procedure, and type of admission. Primary outcome was in hospital mortality. Secondary outcomes were complications, use of blood products, and length of stay (LOS). The association between AAA volume and in hospital mortality was also estimated as a function of continuous volume.

Results A total of 96,426 cases, of which 11,795 (12.6%) presented as ruptured (r)AAA, were treated in >700 hospitals (annual median: 501). The crude in hospital mortality was 3.3% after intact (i)AAA repair (OAR 5.3%; EVAR 1.7%). Volume was inversely associated with mortality after OAR and EVAR. Complication rates, LOS, and use of blood products were lower in high volume hospitals. After rAAA repair, crude mortality was 40.4% (OAR 43.2%; EVAR 27.4%). An inverse association between mortality and volume was shown for rAAA repair; the same accounts for the use of blood products. When considering volume as a continuous variate, an annual caseload of 75–100 elective cases was associated with the lowest mortality risk.

Conclusions In hospital mortality and complication rates following AAA repair are inversely associated with annual hospital volume. The use of blood products and the LOS are lower in high volume hospitals. A minimum annual case threshold for AAA procedures might improve post-operative results.

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