Quality Indicators for Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery: Academic versus Nonacademic Outcomes

Sidharth V. Puram, Neil Bhattacharyya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objectives to determine national benchmarks for established quality indicators in head and neck cancer (HNCA) surgery, focusing on differences between academic and nonacademic institutions. Study Design Cross-sectional analysis of national database. Subjects and Methods HNCA surgery admissions from the 2009-2011 Nationwide Inpatient Sample were analyzed for preoperative characteristics and postoperative outcomes. Multivariate analyses were used to identify factors influencing quality indicators after HNCA surgery. Quality metrics - including length of stay (LOS), inpatient death, return to the operating room (OR), wound infection, and transfusion - were compared for academic versus nonacademic institutions. Results A total of 38,379 HNCA surgery inpatient admissions (mean age, 56.5 years; 52.4% male) were analyzed (28,288 teaching vs 10,091 nonteaching). Nationally representative quality metrics for HNCA surgery were as follows: mean LOS, 4.26 ± 0.12 days; return to OR, 3.3% ± 0.2%; inpatient mortality, 0.7% ± 0.1%; wound infection rate, 0.9% ± 0.1%; wound complication rate, 4.3% ± 0.2%; and transfusion rate, 4.3% ± 0.3%. HNCA surgery patients at teaching hospitals had a greater proportion of males, radiation history, and high-acuity procedures and greater comorbidity scores (all P <.001). Multivariate analyses adjusting for age, sex, income, payer, prior radiation, comorbidity scores, and procedural acuity demonstrated that teaching hospitals had a slightly increased LOS (+0.30 days; P =.009) and odds ratio for wound infection (1.54; 95% CI: 1.22-1.94) versus nonteaching hospitals. There were no significant differences in return to OR (P =.271), inpatient mortality (P =.686), or transfusion rate (P =.960). Conclusion Despite caring for substantially more complex HNCA surgery patients with greater comorbidities, teaching hospitals demonstrate only a marginally increased LOS and wound complication rate versus nonteaching hospitals, while other established quality metrics are similar.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-739
Number of pages7
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • academic
  • head and neck
  • otolaryngology
  • quality outcomes
  • teaching


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