Article Abstract

Early discharge after lung resection is safe: 10-year experience

Authors: Christopher W. Towe, Alina Khil, Vanessa P. Ho, Yaron Perry, Luis Argote-Greene, Katherine M. Wu, Philip A. Linden


Background: The average hospitalization after lung resection is 6 days, but some patients are discharged early in the post-operative period. The patient factors associated with early discharge (ED) and the safety of this approach are unknown. We hypothesized that specific patient populations are associated with ED, and that complications in this practice are low.
Methods: A prospective database of lung resections performed at an academic medical center between Jan 1, 2007 and Jan 1, 2017 was queried. Demographic and outcome variables were assessed using standard techniques. ED was defined as the length of stay (LOS) for the quintile with the lowest LOS for patients with anatomic resection (AR) or patients with wedge resection (WR). We then compared clinical factors between patients with ED to those patients discharged by day 7, to determine factors associated with ED (relative to “average” discharge).
Results: During the study period, there were 922 AR and 1,150 WR performed. A total of 448 (39.0%) patients had WRED and 211 patients (22.9%) had ARED. The rate of WRED varied by surgeon, but ARED did not. ARED and WRED patients was associated with several factors, including younger age, better lung function, and were less likely to have elevated American Society of Anesthesiologist (ASA) class. Multivariable analysis suggested that patient factors and primary surgeon influence ED. WRED was associated with 30-day mortality of 0.22% vs. 1.14% for longer LOS (P=0.08). After AR, there were no post-operative deaths within 30 days among 211 patients discharged on postoperative day 1 or 2 [(vs. 2/541, 0.4%, P=0.376) with longer LOS, P=0.048].
Conclusions: ED after lung resection is multifactorial but is safe among selected patients. Age, lung function, procedure duration, and surgeon all influence ED. Complications after ED were rare. Individual surgeon comfort with ED likely impacts LOS, and education or enhanced recovery protocols may help overcome this barrier. Standardized pathways would likely help identify low-risk patients for expeditious discharge.