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1.  Predictors of Clinical Outcomes and Hospital Resource Use of Children After Tracheotomy 
Pediatrics  2009;124(2):563-572.
The objectives are to describe health outcomes and hospital resource use of children after tracheotomy and identify patient characteristics that correlate with outcomes and hospital resource use.
A retrospective analysis of 917 children aged 0 to 18 years undergoing tracheotomy from 36 children’s hospitals in 2002 with follow-up through 2007. Children were identified from ICD-9-CM tracheotomy procedure codes. Comorbid conditions (neurologic impairment [NI], chronic lung disease, upper airway anomaly, prematurity, and trauma) were identified with ICD-9-CM diagnostic codes. Patient characteristics were compared with in-hospital mortality, decannulation, and hospital resource use by using generalized estimating equations.
Forty-eight percent of children were ≤6 months old at tracheotomy placement. Chronic lung disease (56%), NI (48%), and upper airway anomaly (47%) were the most common underlying comorbid conditions. During hospitalization for tracheotomy placement, children with an upper airway anomaly experienced less mortality (3.3% vs 11.7%; P < .001) than children without an upper airway anomaly. Five years after tracheotomy, children with NI experienced greater mortality (8.8% vs 3.5%; P≤.01), less decannulation (5.0% vs 11.0%; P≤.01), and more total number of days in the hospital (mean [SE]: 39.5 [4.0] vs 25.6 [2.6] days; P≤.01) than children without NI. These findings remained significant (P < .01) in multivariate analysis after controlling for other significant cofactors.
Children with upper airway anomaly experienced less mortality, and children with NI experienced higher mortality rates and greater hospital resource use after tracheotomy. Additional research is needed to explore additional factors that may influence health outcomes in children with tracheotomy.
PMCID: PMC3614342  PMID: 19596736
tracheotomy; children; mortality; hospitalization; health services; outcomes
2.  Health information management and perceptions of the quality of care for children with tracheotomy: A qualitative study 
Children with tracheotomy receive health care from an array of providers within various hospital and community health system sectors. Previous studies have highlighted substandard health information exchange between families and these sectors. The aim of this study was to investigate the perceptions and experiences of parents and providers with regard to health information management, care plan development and coordination for children with tracheotomy, and strategies to improve health information management for these children.
Individual and group interviews were performed with eight parents and fifteen healthcare (primary and specialty care, nursing, therapist, equipment) providers of children with tracheotomy. The primary tracheotomy-associated diagnoses for the children were neuromuscular impairment (n = 3), airway anomaly (n = 2) and chronic lung disease (n = 3). Two independent reviewers conducted deep reading and line-by-line coding of all transcribed interviews to discover themes associated with the objectives.
Children with tracheotomy in this study had healthcare providers with poorly defined roles and responsibilities who did not actively communicate with one another. Providers were often unsure where to find documentation relating to a child's tracheotomy equipment settings and home nursing orders, and perceived that these situations contributed to medical errors and delayed equipment needs. Parents created a home record that was shared with multiple providers to track the care that their children received but many considered this a burden better suited to providers. Providers benefited from the parent records, but questioned their accuracy regarding critical tracheotomy care plan information such as ventilator settings. Parents and providers endorsed potential improvement in this environment such as a comprehensive internet-based health record that could be shared among parents and providers, and between various clinical sites.
Participants described disorganized tracheotomy care and health information mismanagement that could help guide future investigations into the impact of improved health information systems for children with tracheotomy. Strategies with the potential to improve tracheotomy care delivery could include defined roles and responsibilities for tracheotomy providers, and improved organization and parent support for maintenance of home-based tracheotomy records with web-based software applications, personal health record platforms and health record data authentication techniques.
PMCID: PMC3127978  PMID: 21605385
3.  Oropharyngeal carriage and lower airway colonisation/infection in 45 tracheotomised children 
Thorax  2002;57(12):1015-1020.
Background: A study was undertaken to determine the oropharyngeal carrier state of potentially pathogenic microorganisms (PPM) and the magnitude of colonisation and infection rates of the lower airways with these PPM in children requiring long term ventilation first transtracheally and afterwards via a tracheotomy.
Methods: A 5 year, prospective, observational cohort study was undertaken in 45 children (33 boys) of median age 6.4 months (range 0–180) over a 5 year period at the Royal Liverpool Children's NHS Trust of Alder Hey, a university affiliated tertiary referral centre. The children were first admitted to the 20-bed paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and, following placement of a tracheotomy, they were transferred to a four bedded respiratory ward. The two main indications were neurological disorders and airway obstruction. All children were ventilated transtracheally for a median period of 12 days (range 0–103) and, after placement of the tracheotomy, for a similar period of 12 days (range 1–281). Surveillance cultures of the oropharynx were taken on admission to the PICU and on the day of placement of the tracheotomy. Throat swabs were taken twice weekly during ventilation, both transtracheal and via the tracheotomy. Tracheal aspirates were taken once weekly and when clinically indicated (in cases where the lower airway secretions were turbid).
Results: Twenty five patients (55%) had abnormal flora, mainly aerobic Gram negative bacilli (AGNB), particularly Pseudomonas aeruginosa, while the community PPM Staphylococcus aureus was present in the oropharynx of 37% (17/45) of the study population. The lower airways were sterile in six children; the other 39 patients (87%) had a total of 82 episodes of colonisation. "Community" PPM significantly increased once the patients received a tracheotomy, independent of the number of patients enrolled, episodes of colonisation/infection, and the number of colonised/infected patients. "Hospital" PPM significantly decreased after tracheotomy only when episodes were compared.
Conclusions: While P aeruginosa present in the admission flora caused primary endogenous colonisation/infection during mechanical ventilation on the PICU, S aureus not carried in the throat was responsible for the exogenous colonisation/infection once the patients had a tracheotomy. This is in sharp contrast to adult studies where exogenous infections are invariably caused by AGNB. This discrepancy may be explained by chronic underlying conditions such as diabetes, alcoholism, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which promote AGNB, whereas the children were recovering following tracheotomy.
PMCID: PMC1758797  PMID: 12454294
4.  Outcome of tracheostomy after pediatric cardiac surgery 
To investigate the incidence, timing indications and outcome of tracheotomy in children who underwent cardiac surgeries.
All pediatric cardiac patients (under 14 years of age) who underwent cardiac surgeries and required tracheotomy from November 2000 to November 2010 were reviewed. The data were collected and reviewed retrospectively.
Sixteen children underwent tracheotomy after cardiac surgery. Fifteen of these cases had surgery for congenital heart disease, and one had surgery for an acquired rheumatic mitral valve disease. The mean ± SEMs of the durations of ventilation before and after tracheotomy were 60.4 ± 9.8 and 14.5 ± 4.79 days respectively (P value 0.0002). The means ± SEM of the lengths of ICU stay before and after tracheotomy were 63.31 ± 10.15 and 22 ± 5.4 days respectively (P value 0.0012). After the tracheotomy 12/16 patients (75%) were weaned from their ventilators and 10/16 were discharged from the PCICU. Six patients were discharged from the hospital and 3 were successfully decannulated. The overall survival rate was 9/16 (56%).
Tracheostomy shortens the duration of mechanical ventilation and facilitates discharge from the ICU. The mortality of tracheotomy patients is still significant but is mainly related to the primary cardiac disease.
PMCID: PMC3727485  PMID: 23960690
Tracheostomy; Pediatric cardiac surgery; ICU stay; Ventilator associated pneumonia
5.  Trends in Resource Utilization by Children with Neurological Impairment in the United States Inpatient Health Care System: A Repeat Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(1):e1001158.
Jay Berry and colleagues report findings from an analysis of hospitalization data in the US, examining the proportion of inpatient resources attributable to care for children with neurological impairment.
Care advances in the United States (US) have led to improved survival of children with neurological impairment (NI). Children with NI may account for an increasing proportion of hospital resources. However, this assumption has not been tested at a national level.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a study of 25,747,016 US hospitalizations of children recorded in the Kids' Inpatient Database (years 1997, 2000, 2003, and 2006). Children with NI were identified with International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification diagnoses resulting in functional and/or intellectual impairment. We assessed trends in inpatient resource utilization for children with NI with a Mantel-Haenszel chi-square test using all 4 y of data combined. Across the 4 y combined, children with NI accounted for 5.2% (1,338,590) of all hospitalizations. Epilepsy (52.2% [n = 538,978]) and cerebral palsy (15.9% [n = 164,665]) were the most prevalent NI diagnoses. The proportion of hospitalizations attributable to children with NI did not change significantly (p = 0.32) over time. In 2006, children with NI accounted for 5.3% (n = 345,621) of all hospitalizations, 13.9% (n = 3.4 million) of bed days, and 21.6% (US$17.7 billion) of all hospital charges within all hospitals. Over time, the proportion of hospitalizations attributable to children with NI decreased within non-children's hospitals (3.0% [n = 146,324] in 1997 to 2.5% [n = 113,097] in 2006, p<.001) and increased within children's hospitals (11.7% [n = 179,324] in 1997 to 13.5% [n = 209,708] in 2006, p<0.001). In 2006, children with NI accounted for 24.7% (2.1 million) of bed days and 29.0% (US$12.0 billion) of hospital charges within children's hospitals.
Children with NI account for a substantial proportion of inpatient resources utilized in the US. Their impact is growing within children's hospitals. We must ensure that the current health care system is staffed, educated, and equipped to serve this growing segment of vulnerable children.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system, often referred to as neurological impairments, are common in infants and children and can cause functional or intellectual disability. There are many causes of neurological impairments, including birth trauma, congenital abnormalities, structural defects, infections, tumors, blood flow disruption, genetic and metabolic conditions, and toxins. Symptoms can be progressive or static and vary widely depending on the condition. For example, developmental delay, changes in activity—often due to muscle wasting—and seizures may be common symptoms of neurological conditions in children. In many countries, extremely premature babies, and children with conditions such as spina bifida and muscular dystrophy, now receive better care than they used to, and may survive longer. However, although such children may have long-term care needs, they may receive crisis-driven, uncoordinated care, even in high-income countries.
Why Was This Study Done?
It is not well understood what proportion of hospital resource use is attributable to care for children with neurological impairments, although it's thought that this group may account for an increasing proportion of hospital resources. In this study, the researchers attempted to answer this question, specifically for the US, by evaluating national trends in hospital admissions for children with neurological impairments.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a multi-state database of US hospital admissions for children aged 0–18 years, known as the KID—the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project's Kids' Inpatient Database—to identify the number of hospital admissions, total number of days spent in the hospital, and total health care costs for children with neurological impairments from 1997 to 2006. The researchers identified appropriate admissions by using diagnostic codes from the International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM), which were reviewed and approved by two pediatric neurologists.
The researchers found that from 1997 to 2006, there were 25,747,016 hospital admissions for children aged 0–18 years, and of these, 1,338,590 (5.2%) were associated with children who had a definite diagnosis of neurological impairment. The most prevalent diagnoses among all hospitalized children with neurological impairments were epilepsy (52.2%) and cerebral palsy (15.9%). Furthermore, across the study period, the proportion of children aged 13–18 years admitted to hospitals with neurological impairments increased from 7.3% to 9.9%. The researchers also found that children with neurological impairments accounted for an increasing proportion of days spent in a hospital (12.9% in 1997 to 13.9% in 2006). In addition, there was a substantial increase in admissions for infants with neurological impairments compared to infants without neurological impairments. The researchers also found that throughout the study period, there was a general pattern for children with neurological impairments to be admitted to pediatric hospitals, rather than general hospitals. Within children's hospitals, children with neurological impairments accounted for a substantial proportion of resources over the study period, including nearly one-third of all hospital charges.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that in the US, children with neurological impairments account for a substantial proportion of inpatient resources utilized, particularly within children's hospitals, necessitating the need for adequate clinical care and a coordination of efforts to ensure that the needs of children with neurological impairments are met. System-based efforts such as partnerships between hospitals and families of children with neurological impairments and the rigorous evaluation of care treatment strategies have the potential to promote quality care for children with neurological impairments. However, such efforts will work only if the current health care system is adequately staffed with appropriately educated professionals.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
More information is available about the KID database used in this study
NHS Choices has further information about epilepsy, one of the most common types of neurological impairment examined in this study
Further information is available from PubMed Health about cerebral palsy, another neurological condition acquired during development that was studied in this dataset
PMCID: PMC3260313  PMID: 22272190
6.  Riluzole and Prognostic Factors in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Long-term and Short-term Survival: A Population-Based Study of 1149 Cases in Taiwan 
Journal of Epidemiology  2013;23(1):35-40.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rare disease in Taiwan; thus, estimation of ALS mortality is difficult. We evaluated factors associated with ALS survival in Taiwan.
The study enrolled 1149 Taiwanese with a primary diagnosis of ALS during 1999–2008. Follow-up information was available for all patients; mean (SD) duration of follow-up was 2.91 (2.62) years. Medical interventions, including noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NIPPV), tracheotomy, gastrostomy, and riluzole, were included in time-dependent survival analysis.
Of the 1149 ALS patients, 438 (38.12%) died during follow-up. Mortality in the first year was 16%, which was 13 times (95% CI 11.1–15.2) the age- and sex-standardized rate of the general population in Taiwan. The average annual crude mortality rate was 13.1% (person-years). Factors significantly associated with increased mortality were male sex, advanced age, rural residence, lower economic status, no tracheotomy, and no riluzole treatment. Significant predictors of long-term versus average survival were younger age at diagnosis, being a dependent or receiving social welfare, and NIPPV support. Significant predictors of short-term versus average survival were older age, being employed, no tracheotomy, and no riluzole use.
The results support the use of riluzole to improve ALS survival. Patients who received riluzole and underwent tracheotomy had the best survival.
PMCID: PMC3700231  PMID: 23117224
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; survival; riluzole; tracheotomy
7.  Ventilator-associated pneumonia in trauma patients with open tracheotomy: Predictive factors and prognosis impact 
To assess the predictive factors of ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP) occurrence following open tracheotomy in trauma patients.
Materials and Methods:
We conducted an observational, prospective study over 15 months, between 01/08/2010 and 30/11/2011. All trauma patients (except those with cervical spine trauma), older than 15 years, undergoing open tracheotomy during their ICU stay were included. All episode of VAP following tracheotomy were recorded. Predictive factor of VAP onset were studied.
We included 106 patients. Mean age was 37.9 ± 15.5 years. Mean Glasgow coma Scale (GCS) was 8.5 ± 3.7 and mean Injury Severity Score (ISS) was 53.1 ± 23.8. Tracheotomy was performed for 53 patients (50%) because of prolonged ventilation whereas 83 patients (78.3%) had tracheotomy because of projected long mechanical ventilation. Tracheotomy was performed within 8.6 ± 5.3 days. Immediate complications were bleeding events (22.6%) and barotrauma (0.9%). Late complications were stomal infection (28.3%) and VAP (52.8%). In multivariate analysis, independent factors predicting VAP onset were delayed tracheotomy (OR = 0.041; CI95% [1.02-7.87]; P = 0.041) and stomal infection (OR = 3.04; CI95% [1.02-9.93]; P = 0.045). Thirty three patients died in ICU (31.1%) without significant impact of VAP on mortality.
Late tracheotomy and stomal infection are independent factors predicting VAP onset after open tracheotomy in trauma patients. The occurrence of VAP prolongers mechanical ventilation duration and intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay (LOS) but doesn’t increase mortality.
PMCID: PMC3841530  PMID: 24339656
Multiple trauma; prognosis; tracheotomy; ventilator associated pneumonia
8.  Upper Airway Volume Segmentation Analysis Using Cine MRI Findings in Children with Tracheostomy Tubes 
Korean Journal of Radiology  2007;8(6):506-511.
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the airway dynamics of the upper airway as depicted on cine MRI in children with tracheotomy tubes during two states of airflow through the upper airway.
Materials and Methods
Sagittal fast gradient echo cine MR images of the supra-glottic airway were obtained with a 1.5T MRI scanner on seven children with tracheotomy tubes. Two sets of images were obtained with either the tubes capped or uncapped. The findings of the cine MRI were retrospectively reviewed. Volume segmentation of the cine images to compare the airway volume change over time (mean volume, standard deviation, normalized range, and coefficient of variance) was performed for the capped and uncapped tubes in both the nasopharynx and hypopharynx (Signed Rank Test).
Graphical representation of the airway volume over time demonstrates a qualitative increased fluctuation in patients with the tracheotomy tube capped as compared to uncapped in both the nasopharyngeal and hypopharyngeal regions of interest. In the nasopharynx, the mean airway volume (capped 2.72 mL, uncapped 2.09 mL, p = 0.0313), the airway volume standard deviation (capped 0.42 mL, uncapped 0.20 mL, p = 0.0156), and the airway volume range (capped 2.10 mL, uncapped 1.09 mL, p = 0.0156) were significantly larger in the capped group of patients. In the hypopharynx, the airway volume standard deviation (capped 1.54 mL, uncapped 0.67 mL, p = 0.0156), and the airway volume range (capped 6.44 mL, uncapped 2.93 mL, p = 0.0156) were significantly larger in the capped tubes. The coefficient of variance (capped 0.37, uncapped 0.26, p = 0.0469) and the normalized range (capped 1.52, uncapped 1.09, p = 0.0313) were significantly larger in the capped tubes.
There is a statistically significant change in airway dynamics in children with tracheotomy tubes when breathing via the airway as compared to breathing via the tracheotomy tube.
PMCID: PMC2627453  PMID: 18071281
Magnetic resonance (MR), cine study; Airway, MR; Obstructive sleep apnea, children
9.  Mandibular distraction in neonates: indications, technique, results 
The Pierre Robin Sequence features were first described by Robin in 1923 and include micrognathia, glossoptosis and respiratory distress with an incidence estimated as 1:8,500 to 1:20,000 newborns. Upper airway obstruction and feeding difficulties are the main concerns related to the pathology. Mandibular distraction should be considered a treatment option (when other treatments result inadequate).
Patiants and methods
Ten patients between the ages of 1 month and 2 years with severe micrognathia and airway obstruction were treated with Mandibular Distraction Osteogenesis (MDO).
All patients underwent fibroscopic examination of the upper airway and a radiographic imaging and/or computed tomography scans to detect malformations and to confirm that the obstruction was caused by posterior tongue displacement. All patients were evaluated by a multidisciplinary team. Indications for surgery included frequent apneic episodes with severe desaturation (70%). Gavage therapy was employed in all patients since oral feeding was not possible. The two tracheotomy patients were 5 months and 2 years old respectively, and the distraction procedure was performed to remove the tracheotomy tube. All patients were treated with bilateral mandibular distraction: two cases with an external multivector distraction device, six cases with an internal non-resorbable device and two cases with an internal resorbable device. In one case, the patient with Goldenhar's Syndrome, the procedure was repeated.
The resolution of symptoms was obtained in all patients, and, when present, tracheotomy was removed without complications. Of the two patients with pre-existing tracheotomies, in the younger patient (5 months old) the tracheotomy was removed 7 days postoperatively. In the Goldenhar's syndrome case (2 years old) a Montgomery device was necessary for 6 months due to the presence of tracheotomy-inducted tracheomalacia. Patients were discharged when the endpoint was obtained: symptoms and signs of airway obstruction were resolved, PAS and maxillomandibular relationship improved, and tracheotomy, when present, removed. During the follow-up, no injury to the inferior alveolar nerve was noted and scarring was significant in only the two cases treated with external devices.
Mandibular Distraction Osteogenesis is a good solution in solving respiratory distress when other procedures are failed in paediatric patients with severe micrognatia.
PMCID: PMC3293018  PMID: 22300418
10.  Noninvasive mechanical ventilation may be useful in treating patients who fail weaning from invasive mechanical ventilation: a randomized clinical trial 
Critical Care  2008;12(2):R51.
The use of noninvasive positive-pressure mechanical ventilation (NPPV) has been investigated in several acute respiratory failure situations. Questions remain about its benefits when used in weaning patients from invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV). The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of bi-level NPPV for patients who fail weaning from IMV.
This experimental randomized clinical trial followed up patients undergoing IMV weaning, under ventilation for more than 48 hours, and who failed a spontaneous breathing T-piece trial. Patients with contraindications to NPPV were excluded. Before T-piece placement, arterial gases, maximal inspiratory pressure, and other parameters of IMV support were measured. During the trial, respiratory rate, tidal volume, minute volume, rapid shallow breathing index, heart rate, arterial blood pressure, and peripheral oxygen saturation were measured at 1 and 30 minutes. After failing a T-piece trial, patients were randomly divided in two groups: (a) those who were extubated and placed on NPPV and (b) those who were returned to IMV. Group results were compared using the Student t test and the chi-square test.
Of 65 patients who failed T-piece trials, 28 were placed on NPPV and 37 were placed on IMV. The ages of patients in the NPPV and IMV groups were 67.6 ± 15.5 and 59.7 ± 17.6 years, respectively. Heart disease, post-surgery respiratory failure, and chronic pulmonary disease aggravation were the most frequent causes of IMV use. In both groups, ventilation time before T-piece trial was 7.3 ± 4.1 days. Heart and respiratory parameters were similar for the two groups at 1 and 30 minutes of T-piece trial. The percentage of complications in the NPPV group was lower (28.6% versus 75.7%), with lower incidences of pneumonia and tracheotomy. Length of stay in the intensive care unit and mortality were not statistically different when comparing the groups.
The results suggest that NPPV is a good alternative for ventilation of patients who fail initial weaning attempts. NPPV reduces the incidence of pneumonia associated with mechanical ventilation and the need for tracheotomy.
Trial registration
CEP HCPA (02–114).
PMCID: PMC2447605  PMID: 18416851
11.  A randomized clinical trial for the timing of tracheotomy in critically ill patients: factors precluding inclusion in a single center study 
Critical Care  2014;18(5):585.
We investigated the potential benefits of early tracheotomy performed before day eight of mechanical ventilation (MV) compared with late tracheotomy (from day 14 if it still indicated) in reducing mortality, days of MV, days of sedation and ICU length of stay (LOS).
Randomized controlled trial (RCT) including all-consecutive ICU admitted patients requiring seven or more days of MV. Between days five to seven of MV, before randomization, the attending physician (AP) was consulted about the expected duration of MV and acceptance of tracheotomy according to randomization. Only accepted patients received tracheotomy as result of randomization. An intention to treat analysis was performed including patients accepted for the AP and those rejected without exclusion criteria.
A total of 489 patients were included in the RCT. Of 245 patients randomized to the early group, the procedure was performed for 167 patients (68.2%) whereas in the 244 patients randomized to the late group was performed for 135 patients (55.3%) (P <0.004). Mortality at day 90 was similar in both groups (25.7% versus 29.9%), but duration of sedation was shorter in the early tracheotomy group median 11 days (range 2 to 92) days compared to 14 days (range 0 to 79) in the late group (P <0.02). The AP accepted the protocol of randomization in 205 cases (42%), 101 were included in early group and 104 in the late group. In these subgroup of patients (per-protocol analysis) no differences existed in mortality at day 90 between the two groups, but the early group had more ventilator-free days, less duration of sedation and less LOS, than the late group.
This study shows that early tracheotomy reduces the days of sedation in patients undergoing MV, but was underpowered to prove any other benefit. In those patients selected by their attending physicians as potential candidates for a tracheotomy, an early procedure can lessen the days of MV, the days of sedation and LOS. However, the imprecision of physicians to select patients who will require prolonged MV challenges the potential benefits of early tracheotomy.
Trial registration ISRCTN22208087. Registered 27 March 2014.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13054-014-0585-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4234827  PMID: 25358451
12.  Application of a Complication Screening Method to Congenital Heart Surgery Admissions A Preliminary Report 
Pediatric cardiology  2007;29(2):258-265.
There have been comprehensive screening methods developed to identify unwanted inpatient events. A comprehensive assessment of complication diagnoses during congenital heart surgery admissions has not been performed. We examined the frequency of complications identified by a complication screening method and their relationship to patient characteristics among congenital heart surgery admissions. Data were obtained from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Kids' Inpatient Database 2000. Among congenital heart surgery admissions, age ≤20 years, we identified International Classification of Disease, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) codes indicating complication. Complication diagnoses were categorized as related to drug/biologic, procedures, devices, implants and grafts, and radiation. We used the Risk Adjustment for Congenital Heart Surgery risk categories (1–6) to examine the association between case complexity and complications. Multivariate analyses estimated the odds for a complication diagnosis by patient characteristics, including age, prematurity, chromosomal anomalies, noncardiac structural anomalies, and surgical risk category.
Among 12,717 cases, 4014 (32%) had at least 1 complication diagnosis code. Procedure-related complication diagnoses represented 75% of complication diagnoses; device, implant, or graft represented 21%; drug/biologic represented 4% and radiation represented 0%. Multivariate analyses demonstrated that higher surgical case complexity and older age had a greater risk for a complication diagnosis: Risk Category 2, odds ratio (OR) 1.8; 3 OR 2.9; 4 OR 2.9; 5 OR 5.0; 6 OR 4.1, relative to category 1, all p‹0.01; age ≥12 years, OR 1.3, p‹0.001; ‹1 year OR 1.1, p = 0.31. Premature cases had decreased odds OR 0.4, p‹0.001. This complication screening method indicates that unwanted patient events occur frequently during congenital heart surgery admissions. Children undergoing complex congenital heart surgery are at greatest risk for these unwanted events. Further study of these events is needed to determine their preventability and severity.
PMCID: PMC4240226  PMID: 17912481
Outcomes; Surgery complications; CHD miscellaneous
13.  Association of Adenotonsillectomy with Asthma Outcomes in Children: A Longitudinal Database Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(11):e1001753.
Rakesh Bhattacharjee and colleagues use data from a US private health insurance database to compare asthma severity measures in children one year before and one year after they underwent adenotonsillectomy with asthma measures in those who did not undergo adenotonsillectomy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Childhood asthma and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), both disorders of airway inflammation, were associated in recent observational studies. Although childhood OSA is effectively treated by adenotonsillectomy (AT), it remains unclear whether AT also improves childhood asthma. We hypothesized that AT, the first line of therapy for childhood OSA, would be associated with improved asthma outcomes and would reduce the usage of asthma therapies in children.
Methods and Findings
Using the 2003–2010 MarketScan database, we identified 13,506 children with asthma in the United States who underwent AT. Asthma outcomes during 1 y preceding AT were compared to those during 1 y following AT. In addition, 27,012 age-, sex-, and geographically matched children with asthma without AT were included to examine asthma outcomes among children without known adenotonsillar tissue morbidity. Primary outcomes included the occurrence of a diagnostic code for acute asthma exacerbation (AAE) or acute status asthmaticus (ASA). Secondary outcomes included temporal changes in asthma medication prescriptions, the frequency of asthma-related emergency room visits (ARERs), and asthma-related hospitalizations (ARHs). Comparing the year following AT to the year prior, AT was associated with significant reductions in AAE (30.2%; 95% CI: 25.6%–34.3%; p<0.0001), ASA (37.9%; 95% CI: 29.2%–45.6%; p<0.0001), ARERs (25.6%; 95% CI: 16.9%–33.3%; p<0.0001), and ARHs (35.8%; 95% CI: 19.6%–48.7%; p = 0.02). Moreover, AT was associated with significant reductions in most asthma prescription refills, including bronchodilators (16.7%; 95% CI: 16.1%–17.3%; p<0.001), inhaled corticosteroids (21.5%; 95% CI: 20.7%–22.3%; p<0.001), leukotriene receptor antagonists (13.4%; 95% CI: 12.9%–14.0%; p<0.001), and systemic corticosteroids (23.7%; 95% CI: 20.9%–26.5%; p<0.001). In contrast, there were no significant reductions in these outcomes in children with asthma who did not undergo AT over an overlapping follow-up period. Limitations of the MarketScan database include lack of information on race and obesity status. Also, the MarketScan database does not include information on children with public health insurance (i.e., Medicaid) or uninsured children.
In a very large sample of privately insured children, AT was associated with significant improvements in several asthma outcomes. Contingent on validation through prospectively designed clinical trials, this study supports the premise that detection and treatment of adenotonsillar tissue morbidity may serve as an important strategy for improving asthma control.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The global burden of asthma has been rising steadily over the past few decades. Nowadays, about 200–300 million adults and children worldwide are affected by asthma, a chronic condition caused by inflammation of the airways (the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs). Although asthma can develop at any age, it is often diagnosed in childhood—asthma is one of the commonest chronic diseases in children. In the US, for example, asthma affects around 7.1 million children under the age of 18 years and is the third leading cause of hospitalization of children under the age of 15 years. In people with asthma, the airways can react very strongly to allergens such as animal fur or to irritants such as cigarette smoke. Exercise, cold air, and infections can trigger asthma attacks, which can be fatal. The symptoms of asthma include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Asthma cannot be cured, but drugs can relieve its symptoms and prevent acute asthma attacks.
Why Was This Study Done?
Recent studies have found an association between severe childhood asthma and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In OSA, airway inflammation promotes hypertrophy (excess growth) of the adenoids and the tonsils, immune system tissues in the upper airway. During sleep, the presence of hypertrophic adenotonsillar tissues predisposes the walls of the throat to collapse, which results in apnea—a brief interruption in breathing. People with OSA often snore loudly and frequently wake from deep sleep as they struggle to breathe. Childhood OSA, which affects 2%–3% of children, can be effectively treated by removal of the adenoids and tonsils (adenotonsillectomy). Given the association between childhood OSA and severe asthma and given the involvement of airway inflammation in both conditions, might adenotonsillectomy also improve childhood asthma? Here, the researchers analyze data from the MarketScan database, a large database of US patients with private health insurance, to investigate whether adenotonsillectomy is associated with improvements in asthma outcomes and with reductions in the use of asthma therapies in children.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the database to identify 13,506 children with asthma who had undergone adenotonsillectomy and to obtain information about asthma outcomes among these children for the year before and the year after the operation. Because asthma severity tends to decrease with age, the researchers also used the database to identify 27,012 age-, sex-, and geographically matched children with asthma who did not have the operation so that they could examine asthma outcomes over an equivalent two-year period in the absence of complications related to adenotonsillar hypertrophy. Comparing the year after adenotonsillectomy with the year before the operation, adenotonsillectomy was associated with a 30% reduction in acute asthma exacerbations, a 37.9% reduction in acute status asthmaticus (an asthma attack that is unresponsive to the drugs usually used to treat attacks), a 25.6% reduction in asthma-related emergency room visits, and a 35.8% reduction in asthma-related hospitalizations. By contrast, among the control children, there was only a 2% reduction in acute asthma exacerbations and only a 7% reduction in acute status asthmaticus over an equivalent two-year period. Adenotonsillectomy was also associated with significant reductions (changes unlikely to have occurred by chance) in prescription refills for most types of drugs used to treat asthma, whereas there were no significant reductions in prescription refills among children with asthma who had not undergone adenotonsillectomy. The study was limited by the lack of measures of race and obesity, which are both associated with severity of asthma.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that in a large sample of privately insured children in the US, adenotonsillectomy was associated with significant improvements in several asthma outcomes. These results do not show, however, that adenotonsillectomy caused a reduction in the severity of childhood asthma. It could be that the children who underwent adenotonsillectomy (but not those who did not have the operation) shared another unknown factor that led to improvements in their asthma over time. To prove a causal link, it will be necessary to undertake a randomized controlled trial in which the outcomes of groups of children with asthma who are chosen at random to undergo or not undergo adenotonsillectomy are compared. However, with the proviso that there are some risks associated with adenotonsillectomy, these findings suggest that the detection and treatment of adenotonsillar hypertrophy may help to improve asthma control in children.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on asthma, including videos, games, and links to other resources for children with asthma
The American Lung Association provides detailed information about asthma and a fact sheet on asthma in children; it also has information about obstructive sleep apnea
The National Sleep Foundation provides information on snoring and obstructive sleep apnea in children
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including some personal stories) about asthma, about asthma in children, and about obstructive sleep apnea
The “Global Asthma Report 2014” will be available in October 2014
MedlinePlus provides links to further information on asthma, on asthma in children, on sleep apnea, and on tonsils and adenoids (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC4219664  PMID: 25369282
14.  A population based study of hospitalised seriously injured in a region of Northern Italy 
Injury is a public health problem in terms of mortality, morbidity and disability. The implementation of a regionalised trauma system has been proved to significantly reduce the social impact of severe trauma on population. A population-based registry may be useful to obtain reliable epidemiologic data.
To perform an exhaustive analysis of severe trauma patients hospitalised in Lombardia, a region of northern Italy.
Materials and methods
The regional Hospital Discharge Registry (HDR) was used to retrieve data of all patients who suffered from serious injuries from 2008 to 2010. ICD9-CM codes of discharge diagnoses were analysed and patients coded from 800.0 to 939.9 or from 950.0 to 959.9 have been retrieved. Femur fractures in elderly and patients with length of hospital stay less than 2 days were excluded. Patients have been considered seriously injured if discharged dead or any of followings: admission or transit in ICU, need of mechanical ventilation, tracheotomy, invasive hemodynamic monitoring. Average reimbursement based on DRG has been evaluated.
Student’s t test, ANOVA for continuous data, chi-square test for categorical data were used, and a p value less than 0.05 was considered significant.
The severely injured patients hospitalised in Lombardia in three years were 11704, 391 per million per year. Overall mortality was 24.17% and increased with age. Males aging from 18 to 64 years had more occupational injuries, trauma on the road and violence by others. Females were more susceptible to domestic injuries and self inflicted violence, mostly in older ages. Acute mortality was higher after traffic accidents, while late mortality was increased in domestic trauma. Pediatric cases were unusual. A significant increase (+10.18%) in domestic trauma, with a concomitant decrease (-17.76%) in road-related accidents was observed in the three years study period. Reimbursement paid to hospitals for seriously injured was insufficient with regard to estimated costs of care.
Serious injury requiring hospitalisation in Lombardia is still an healthcare problem, with a trend toward a decrease of traffic accidents, increase in domestic trauma and involvement of older people. These results may help to plan a new regionalised Trauma System.
PMCID: PMC3751444  PMID: 23937969
Epidemiology; Major trauma; Population-based study; Trauma registry; Trauma system
15.  Association between Respiratory Syncytial Virus Activity and Pneumococcal Disease in Infants: A Time Series Analysis of US Hospitalization Data 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(1):e1001776.
Daniel Weinberger and colleagues examine a possible interaction between two serious respiratory infections in children under 2 years of age.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
The importance of bacterial infections following respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) remains unclear. We evaluated whether variations in RSV epidemic timing and magnitude are associated with variations in pneumococcal disease epidemics and whether changes in pneumococcal disease following the introduction of seven-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) were associated with changes in the rate of hospitalizations coded as RSV.
Methods and Findings
We used data from the State Inpatient Databases (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality), including >700,000 RSV hospitalizations and >16,000 pneumococcal pneumonia hospitalizations in 36 states (1992/1993–2008/2009). Harmonic regression was used to estimate the timing of the average seasonal peak of RSV, pneumococcal pneumonia, and pneumococcal septicemia. We then estimated the association between the incidence of pneumococcal disease in children and the activity of RSV and influenza (where there is a well-established association) using Poisson regression models that controlled for shared seasonal variations. Finally, we estimated changes in the rate of hospitalizations coded as RSV following the introduction of PCV7. RSV and pneumococcal pneumonia shared a distinctive spatiotemporal pattern (correlation of peak timing: ρ = 0.70, 95% CI: 0.45, 0.84). RSV was associated with a significant increase in the incidence of pneumococcal pneumonia in children aged <1 y (attributable percent [AP]: 20.3%, 95% CI: 17.4%, 25.1%) and among children aged 1–2 y (AP: 10.1%, 95% CI: 7.6%, 13.9%). Influenza was also associated with an increase in pneumococcal pneumonia among children aged 1–2 y (AP: 3.2%, 95% CI: 1.7%, 4.7%). Finally, we observed a significant decline in RSV-coded hospitalizations in children aged <1 y following PCV7 introduction (−18.0%, 95% CI: −22.6%, −13.1%, for 2004/2005–2008/2009 versus 1997/1998–1999/2000). This study used aggregated hospitalization data, and studies with individual-level, laboratory-confirmed data could help to confirm these findings.
These analyses provide evidence for an interaction between RSV and pneumococcal pneumonia. Future work should evaluate whether treatment for secondary bacterial infections could be considered for pneumonia cases even if a child tests positive for RSV.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Respiratory infections—bacterial and viral infections of the lungs and the airways (the tubes that take oxygen-rich air to the lungs)—are major causes of illness and death in children worldwide. Pneumonia (infection of the lungs) alone is responsible for about 15% of all child deaths. The leading cause of bacterial pneumonia in children is Streptococcus pneumoniae, which is transmitted through contact with infected respiratory secretions. S. pneumoniae usually causes noninvasive diseases such as bronchitis, but sometimes the bacteria invade the lungs, the bloodstream, or the covering of the brain, where they cause pneumonia, septicemia, or meningitis, respectively. These potentially fatal invasive pneumococcal diseases can be treated with antibiotics but can also be prevented by vaccination with pneumococcal conjugate vaccines such as PCV7. The leading cause of viral pneumonia is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is also readily transmitted through contact with infected respiratory secretions. Almost all children have an RSV infection before their second birthday—RSV usually causes a mild cold-like illness. However, some children infected with RSV develop pneumonia and have to be admitted to hospital for supportive care such as the provision of supplemental oxygen; there is no specific treatment for RSV infection.
Why Was This Study Done?
Co-infections with bacteria and viruses can sometimes have a synergistic effect and lead to more severe disease than an infection with either type of pathogen (disease-causing organism) alone. For example, influenza infections increase the risk of invasive pneumococcal disease. But does pneumococcal disease also interact with RSV infection? It is important to understand the interaction between pneumococcal disease and RSV to improve the treatment of respiratory infections in young children, but the importance of bacterial infections following RSV infection is currently unclear. Here, the researchers undertake a time series analysis of US hospitalization data to investigate the association between RSV activity and pneumococcal disease in infants. Time series analysis uses statistical methods to analyze data collected at successive, evenly spaced time points.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
For their analysis, the researchers used data collected between 1992/1993 and 2008/2009 by the State Inpatient Databases on more than 700,000 hospitalizations for RSV and more than 16,000 hospitalizations for pneumococcal pneumonia or septicemia among children under two years old in 36 US states. Using a statistical technique called harmonic regression to measure seasonal variations in disease incidence (the rate of occurrence of new cases of a disease), the researchers show that RSV and pneumococcal pneumonia shared a distinctive spatiotemporal pattern over the study period. Next, using Poisson regression models (another type of statistical analysis), they show that RSV was associated with significant increases (increases unlikely to have happened by chance) in the incidence of pneumococcal disease. Among children under one year old, 20.3% of pneumococcal pneumonia cases were associated with RSV activity; among children 1–2 years old, 10.1% of pneumococcal pneumonia cases were associated with RSV activity. Finally, the researchers report that following the introduction of routine vaccination in the US against S. pneumoniae with PCV7 in 2000, there was a significant decline in hospitalizations for RSV among children under one year old.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide evidence for an interaction between RSV and pneumococcal pneumonia and indicate that RSV is associated with increases in the incidence of pneumococcal pneumonia, particularly in young infants. Notably, the finding that RSV hospitalizations declined after the introduction of routine pneumococcal vaccination suggests that some RSV hospitalizations may have a joint viral–bacterial etiology (cause), although it is possible that PCV7 vaccination reduced the diagnosis of RSV because fewer children were hospitalized with pneumococcal disease and subsequently tested for RSV. Because this is an ecological study (an observational investigation that looks at risk factors and outcomes in temporally and geographically defined populations), these findings do not provide evidence for a causal link between hospitalizations for RSV and pneumococcal pneumonia. The similar spatiotemporal patterns for the two infections might reflect another unknown factor shared by the children who were hospitalized for RSV or pneumococcal pneumonia. Moreover, because pooled hospitalization discharge data were used in this study, these results need to be confirmed through analysis of individual-level, laboratory-confirmed data. Importantly, however, these findings support the initiation of studies to determine whether treatment for bacterial infections should be considered for children with pneumonia even if they have tested positive for RSV.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides information about the respiratory system and about pneumonia
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of pneumococcal disease and pneumococcal vaccination, including personal stories and information about RSV infection
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about pneumonia (including a personal story) and about pneumococcal diseases
KidsHealth, a website provided by the US-based non-profit Nemours Foundation, includes information on pneumonia and on RSV (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about pneumonia, RSV infections, and pneumococcal infections (in English and Spanish)
HCUPnet provides aggregated hospitalization data from the State Inpatient Databases used in this study
PMCID: PMC4285401  PMID: 25562317
16.  Advanced and rapidly progressing head and neck cancer: good palliation following intralesional bleomycin 
BMJ Case Reports  2011;2011:bcr0820114599.
The authors herein report the case of a 61-year-old man undergoing adjuvant therapy for locally advanced laryngeal cancer, who developed parastomal recurrence in his radiation field around his tracheotomy site, while he was undergoing radiation therapy, and compromised the secure placement of his tracheotomy tube and maintenance of his upper airway. MRI restaging and biopsy confirmed recurrence and progressive disease in his mediastinum. He underwent local therapy with intralesional bleomycin with good palliation, and ability to maintain the patency of his upper airway.
PMCID: PMC3185391  PMID: 22679261
17.  Tracheostomy in children with congenital heart disease: a national analysis of the Kids’ Inpatient Database 
PeerJ  2014;2:e568.
Background. While single-institution studies reported the indications and outcomes of tracheostomy in children with congenital heart disease (CHD), no national analyses have been performed. We sought to examine the indications, performance, outcomes, and resource utilization of tracheostomy in children with CHD using a nationally representative database.
Methods. We identified all children undergoing tracheostomy in the Kids’ Inpatient Database 1997 through 2009, and we compared children with CHD to children without CHD. Within the CHD group, we compared children whose tracheostomy occurred in the same hospital admission as a cardiac operation to those whose tracheostomy occurred without a cardiac operation in the same admission.
Results. Tracheostomy was performed in n = 2,495 children with CHD, which represents 9.6% of all tracheostomies performed in children (n = 25,928), and 3.5% of all admissions for children with CHD (n = 355,460). Over the study period, there was an increasing trend in the proportion of all tracheostomies that were done in children with CHD (p < 0.0001) and an increasing trend in the proportion of admissions for children with CHD that involved a tracheostomy (p < 0.0001). The population of children with CHD undergoing tracheostomy differed markedly in baseline characteristics, outcomes, and resource utilization. Similarly, the subgroup of children whose tracheostomy was performed in the same admission as a cardiac operation differed significantly from those whose tracheostomy was not.
Conclusions. Tracheostomy is an increasingly common procedure in children with CHD despite being associated with significantly greater resource utilization and in-hospital mortality. The population of children with CHD who undergo tracheostomy differs markedly from that of children without CHD who undergo tracheostomy, and important differences are observed between children who undergo tracheostomy in the same admission as a cardiac surgical procedure and those who undergo tracheostomy in a nonsurgical admission, as well as between children with single-ventricle physiology and children with two-ventricle physiology.
PMCID: PMC4168842  PMID: 25250217
Tracheostomy; Congenital heart disease; Pediatrics; Respiratory failure; Pediatric critical care; Single-ventricle physiology
18.  Hospitalisations for respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis in Akershus, Norway, 1993–2000: a population-based retrospective study 
BMC Pediatrics  2004;4:25.
RSV is recognized as the most important cause of serious lower respiratory tract illness in infants and young children worldwide leading to hospitalisation in a great number of cases, especially in certain high-risk groups. The aims of the present study were to identify risk groups, outcome and incidences of hospitalisation for RSV bronchiolitis in Norwegian children under two years of age and to compare the results with other studies.
We performed a population-based retrospective survey for the period 1993–2000 in children under two years of age hospitalised for RSV bronchiolitis.
822 admissions from 764 patients were identified, 93% had one hospitalisation, while 7% had two or more hospitalisations. Mean annual hospitalisation incidences were 21.7 per 1.000 children under one year of age, 6.8 per 1.000 children at 1–2 years of age and 14.1 per 1.000 children under two years of age. 77 children (85 admissions) belonged to one or more high-risk groups such as preterm birth, trisomy 21 and congenital heart disease. For preterm children under one year of age, at 1–2 years of age and under two years of age hospitalisation incidences per 1.000 children were 23.5, 8.7 and 16.2 respectively. The incidence for children under two years of age with trisomy 21 was 153.8 per 1.000 children.
While the overall hospitalisation incidences and outcome of RSV bronchiolitis were in agreement with other studies, hospitalisation incidences for preterm children were lower than in many other studies. Age on admission for preterm children, when corrected for prematurity, was comparable to low-risk children. Length of hospitalisation and morbidity was high in both preterm children, children with a congenital heart disease and in children with trisomy 21, the last group being at particular high risk for severe disease.
PMCID: PMC544884  PMID: 15606912
19.  Prognostic Accuracy of WHO Growth Standards to Predict Mortality in a Large-Scale Nutritional Program in Niger 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(3):e1000039.
Important differences exist in the diagnosis of malnutrition when comparing the 2006 World Health Organization (WHO) Child Growth Standards and the 1977 National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reference. However, their relationship with mortality has not been studied. Here, we assessed the accuracy of the WHO standards and the NCHS reference in predicting death in a population of malnourished children in a large nutritional program in Niger.
Methods and Findings
We analyzed data from 64,484 children aged 6–59 mo admitted with malnutrition (<80% weight-for-height percentage of the median [WH]% [NCHS] and/or mid-upper arm circumference [MUAC] <110 mm and/or presence of edema) in 2006 into the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) nutritional program in Maradi, Niger. Sensitivity and specificity of weight-for-height in terms of Z score (WHZ) and WH% for both WHO standards and NCHS reference were calculated using mortality as the gold standard. Sensitivity and specificity of MUAC were also calculated. The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was traced for these cutoffs and its area under curve (AUC) estimated. In predicting mortality, WHZ (NCHS) and WH% (NCHS) showed AUC values of 0.63 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.60–0.66) and 0.71 (CI 0.68–0.74), respectively. WHZ (WHO) and WH% (WHO) appeared to provide higher accuracy with AUC values of 0.76 (CI 0.75–0.80) and 0.77 (CI 0.75–0.80), respectively. The relationship between MUAC and mortality risk appeared to be relatively weak, with AUC = 0.63 (CI 0.60–0.67). Analyses stratified by sex and age yielded similar results.
These results suggest that in this population of children being treated for malnutrition, WH indicators calculated using WHO standards were more accurate for predicting mortality risk than those calculated using the NCHS reference. The findings are valid for a population of already malnourished children and are not necessarily generalizable to a population of children being screened for malnutrition. Future work is needed to assess which criteria are best for admission purposes to identify children most likely to benefit from therapeutic or supplementary feeding programs.
Rebecca Grais and colleagues assess the accuracy of WHO growth standards in predicting death among malnourished children admitted to a large nutritional program in Niger.
Editors' Summary
Malnutrition causes more than a third of child deaths worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there are 178 million malnourished children globally, all of whom are vulnerable to disease and 20 million of whom are at risk of death. Poverty, rising food prices, food scarcity, and natural disasters all contribute significantly to malnutrition, but children's lives can be saved if aid agencies are able to identify and treat acute malnutrition early. This can be done by comparing a child's body measurements to those of healthy children.
In 1977 the US National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) introduced child growth reference charts describing how US children grow. The charts enable the height of a child of a given age to be compared with the set of “percentile curves,” which show, for example, whether the child is on the 90th or the 10th centile—that is, whether taller than 90% or 10% of their peers. These NCHS reference charts were subsequently adopted by the WHO for international use. In 2006, the WHO began to use new growth charts, based on children from a variety of countries raised in optimal environments for healthy growth. These provide a standard for how all children should grow, regardless of ethnic background or wealth.
Why Was This Study Done?
It is known that the WHO standards and the NCHS reference differ in how they identify malnutrition. Estimates of malnutrition are higher with the WHO standard than the NCHS reference. This affects the cost of international programs to treat malnutrition, as more children will be diagnosed and treated when the WHO standards are used. However, it is not known how the different growth measures differ in predicting which children's lives are at risk from malnutrition. The researchers saw that the data in their nutritional program could help provide this information.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers examined data on the body measurements of over 60,000 children aged between 6 mo and 5 y enrolled in a Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) nutritional programme in Maradi, Niger during 2006. Children were assessed as having acute malnutrition (wasting) and enrolled in the feeding program if their weight-for-height was less than 80% of the NCHS average, if their mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) was under 110 mm (for children 65–110 cm), or they had swelling in both feet.
The authors evaluated three measures to see which was most accurate at predicting that children would die under treatment: low weight-for-height as measured against each of the WHO standard and NCHS reference, and low MUAC. For each measure, they compared the proportion of correct predictions of death (sensitivity) and the proportion of correct predictions of survival (specificity) for a range of possible cutoffs (or thresholds) for diagnosis.
They found that the WHO standard gave more accurate predictions than the NCHS reference or the MUAC of which children would die under treatment. The results were similar when the children were grouped by age or sex.
What Do these Findings Mean?
The results suggest that, at least in this population, the WHO standards are a more accurate predictor of death following malnutrition. This agrees with what might be expected, as the WHO standard is more up-to-date as well as aiming to show how healthy children from a range of settings should grow.
Nevertheless, an important limitation is that the children in the study had already been diagnosed as malnourished and were receiving treatment. As a result, the authors cannot say definitively which measure is better at predicting what children in the general population are acutely malnourished and would benefit most from treatment.
It should also be noted that children were predominantly entered into the feeding program by the weight-for-height indicator rather than by the MUAC. This may be a reason why the MUAC appears worse at predicting death than weight-for-height. Missing and inaccurate data, for instance on the exact ages of some children, also limit the findings.
In addition, the findings do not provide guidance on the cutoffs that should be used in deciding whether to enter a child into a feeding program. Different cutoffs represent a trade-off between treating more children needlessly in order to catch all in need, and treating fewer children and missing some in need. The study also cannot be used to advise on whether weight-for-height or the MUAC is more appropriate in a given context. In certain crisis situations, for instance, some authorities suggest it may be more practical to use the MUAC, as it requires less equipment or training.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The UN Standing Committee on Nutrition homepage publishes international briefings on nutrition as a foundation for development
The US National Center for Health Statistics provides background information on its 1977 growth charts and how they were developed in the context of explaining how they differ from revised charts produced in 2000
The World Heath Organization publishes country profile information on its child growth standards and also on Niger
Médecins sans Frontières also provides information on its work in Niger
The EC-FAO Food Security Information for Action Programme is funded by the European Commission (EC) and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It aims to help nations formulate more effective anti-hunger policies and provides online materials, including a guide to nutritional status assessment and analysis, which includes information on the contexts in which different indicators are useful
PMCID: PMC2650722  PMID: 19260760
20.  Thyroid surgery in octogenarians is associated with higher complication rates 
Surgery  2009;146(5):10.1016/j.surg.2009.05.004.
To determine whether thyroid surgery in patients ≥80 is associated with higher complication rates.
The incidence of thyroid nodules increases with age and little information is available regarding the risks of thyroid surgery in elderly patients.
Out of 3568 patients undergoing thyroid surgery between July 2001 and October 2007 at a single institution, the records of 90 consecutive patients ≥80 years were retrospectively reviewed and compared to a cohort of 242 randomly selected patients aged 18–79, who underwent thyroid surgery during the same time period, using SAS statistical software. Clinical variables included age group, sex, medical co-morbidities, pre-operative diagnosis, substernal component, previous surgery, final pathology, length of stay (LOS), postoperative complications and mortality.
Preoperative indications for surgery included benign disease in 51.1% vs. 40.9%, suspected malignancy in 18.9% vs. 26% and suspected follicular neoplasms including indeterminate/microfollicular cytology in 30% vs. 33.1% in the octogenarian patient group (≥80 yrs old) vs. the younger patient cohort (p=NS). Octogenarians had a 21.1% rate of significant malignancy on final pathology vs. 28.1% in the younger cohort (p=NS). The overall complication rate in the octogenarian group was 23.3% vs. 9.1% in the younger cohort (p=.0006). Male sex and lung disease were independent risk factors for perioperative complications. Complications unique to octogenarians included heart failure, atrial fibrillation, pneumonia, tracheotomy, urosepsis, blood transfusion, wound infection and ischemic colitis. There was no mortality in either group.
Patients ≥80 years of age can undergo successful thyroid surgery but with significantly higher morbidity. Earlier surgical intervention may be advised in those who are at high risk for disease progression whereas follow-up strategies without surgery may be advised for others.
PMCID: PMC3867691  PMID: 19744461
21.  Incidence and Clinical Characteristics of Group A Rotavirus Infections among Children Admitted to Hospital in Kilifi, Kenya  
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(7):e153.
Rotavirus, predominantly of group A, is a major cause of severe diarrhoea worldwide, with the greatest burden falling on young children living in less-developed countries. Vaccines directed against this virus have shown promise in recent trials, and are undergoing effectiveness evaluation in sub-Saharan Africa. In this region limited childhood data are available on the incidence and clinical characteristics of severe group A rotavirus disease. Advocacy for vaccine intervention and interpretation of effectiveness following implementation will benefit from accurate base-line estimates of the incidence and severity of rotavirus paediatric admissions in relevant populations. The study objective was to accurately define the incidence and severity of group A rotavirus disease in a resource-poor setting necessary to make informed decisions on the need for vaccine prevention.
Methods and Findings
Between 2002 and 2004 we conducted prospective surveillance for group A rotavirus infection at Kilifi District Hospital in coastal Kenya. Children < 13 y of age were eligible as “cases” if admitted with diarrhoea, and “controls” if admitted without diarrhoea. We calculated the incidence of hospital admission with group A rotavirus using data from a demographic surveillance study of 220,000 people in Kilifi District. Of 15,347 childhood admissions 3,296 (22%) had diarrhoea, 2,039 were tested for group A rotavirus antigen and, of these, 588 (29%) were positive. 372 (63%) rotavirus-positive cases were infants. Of 620 controls 19 (3.1%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.9–4.7) were rotavirus positive. The annual incidence (per 100,000 children) of rotavirus-positive admissions was 1,431 (95% CI 1,275–1,600) in infants and 478 (437–521) in under-5-y-olds, and highest proximal to the hospital. Compared to children with rotavirus-negative diarrhoea, rotavirus-positive cases were less likely to have coexisting illnesses and more likely to have acidosis (46% versus 17%) and severe electrolyte imbalance except hyponatraemia. In-hospital case fatality was 2% among rotavirus-positive and 9% among rotavirus-negative children.
In Kilifi > 2% of children are admitted to hospital with group A rotavirus diarrhoea in the first 5 y of life. This translates into over 28,000 vaccine-preventable hospitalisations per year across Kenya, and is likely to be a considerable underestimate. Group A rotavirus diarrhoea is associated with acute life-threatening metabolic derangement in otherwise healthy children. Although mortality is low in this clinical research setting this may not be generally true in African hospitals lacking rapid and appropriate management.
Combining prospective hospital-based surveillance with demographic data in Kilifi, Kenya, James Nokes and colleagues assess the burden of rotavirus diarrhea in young children.
Editors' Summary
Rotavirus is a leading global cause of diarrhea in babies and young children. Indeed, most children become infected at least once with this virus before their fifth birthday. Rotavirus is usually spread by children or their caregivers failing to wash their hands properly after going to the toilet and then contaminating food or drink. The symptoms of rotavirus infection—diarrhea, vomiting, and fever—are usually mild, but if the diarrhea is severe it can quickly lead to dehydration. Mild to moderate dehydration can be treated at home by providing the patient with plenty of fluids or with a special rehydration drink that replaces lost water and salts. However, for infants or toddlers who become severely dehydrated, rehydration with intravenous fluids (fluids injected directly into a vein) in hospital may be essential. Unfortunately, in developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, this treatment is not widely available and every year more than half a million young children die from rotavirus infections.
Why Was This Study Done?
Two rotavirus vaccines that could reduce this burden of disease are currently undergoing clinical trials to determine their effectiveness in sub-Saharan Africa. However, very little is known about the incidence of severe rotavirus infections among children living in this region (that is, how many children develop severe disease every year) or about the clinical characteristics of the disease here. Public-health officials need this baseline information before they can make informed decisions about the mass introduction of rotavirus vaccination and to help them judge whether the intervention has been successful if it is introduced. In this study, the researchers examine the incidence and clinical characteristics of rotavirus infections (specifically, group A rotavirus [GARV] infections; there are several different rotaviruses but GARV causes most human infections) among children admitted to the district hospital in Kilifi, Kenya.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
During the 3-year study, more than 15,000 children under the age of 13 years were admitted to Kilifi District Hospital, a little under a quarter of whom had severe diarrhea. Nearly a third of the patients admitted with diarrhea who were tested had a GARV-specific protein in their stools (faeces); by contrast, only three in 100 children admitted without diarrhea showed any evidence of GARV infection. Two-thirds of the GARV-positive children were infants (under 1 year old). Using these figures and health surveillance data (records of births, deaths, and causes of death) collected in the area around the hospital, the researchers calculated that the annual incidence (per 100,000 children) of GARV-positive hospital admissions in the region was 1,431 for infants and 478 for children under age 5 years. Children with GARV-positive diarrhea were less likely to have other illnesses (for example, malnutrition) than those admitted with GARV-negative diarrhea, the researchers report, but were more likely to have life-threatening complications such as severe dehydration and salt imbalances in their blood. However, despite being more ill on admission, only 1 in 50 children with GARV-positive diarrhea died, compared to nearly 1 in 10 of the children with GARV-negative diarrhea; the GARV-positive children also left hospital quicker than those who were GARV-negative.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that severe GARV-positive diarrhea is a major cause of hospital admission among otherwise healthy young children in the Kilifi region of Kenya. By the time they are 5 years old, the researchers estimate that 1 in 50 of the children living in this region will have been admitted to hospital with severe GARV-positive diarrhea. Because rotavirus vaccines prevent virtually all severe rotavirus-associated disease (at least in developed countries where their effectiveness has been extensively tested), the researchers estimate that vaccination might prevent more than 28,000 hospitalizations annually across Kenya; however, this prediction assumes that it is valid to extrapolate from the data obtained from this one district hospital to the entire country.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information about rotavirus infections, surveillance, and vaccination (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Direct health encyclopedia provides information on rotavirus infections
MedlinePlus also provides links to information on rotavirus (in English and Spanish)
The African Rotavirus Surveillance Network is working to improve knowledge about rotavirus infections in Africa
The Rotavirus Vaccine Program aims to reduce child illness and death from diarrhea by increasing the availability of rotavirus vaccines in developing countries (in English and Spanish)
PATH, a nonprofit international organization that aims to create sustainable, culturally relevant solutions to global health problems, also provides detailed information on rotavirus surveillance and disease burden
PMCID: PMC2488191  PMID: 18651787
22.  Tracheotomy-Related Catastrophic Events: Results of a National Survey 
The Laryngoscope  2012;122(1):30-37.
To gather qualitative and semiquantitative information about catastrophic complications during and following tracheotomy.
Study Design
National survey distributed to American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery members via the Academy weekly email newsletter during April and May 2011.
A total of 478 respondents provided estimates of the number of four specific tracheotomy-related complications (innominate artery fistula, esophageal fistula, acute tracheotomy occlusion, and obstructing granuloma), all catastrophic events, and events resulting in death or permanent disability encountered during their careers. There were 253 respondents who provided 405 free-text descriptions of specific events.
The respondents experienced approximately one catastrophic event every 10 years and one event resulting in death or permanent disability every 20 years. More than 90% occurred more than 1 week after surgery. Categories of physicians who experienced more events per year included academic physicians and laryngologists. Pediatric otolaryngologists had twice as many innominate artery fistulas per year of practice as others. Qualitative (free-text) descriptions of the most serious events demonstrated that more of these events involved loss of airway and volume bleeds, usually from innominate or carotid artery erosion. Many of the events due to airway loss involved potentially correctable deficits in family education, nursing care, home care, and other structural factors.
Even when we allow for selection bias, these data suggest that a substantial number of tracheotomy complications leading to death or permanent disability occur at a national level. The vast majority of events occur more than 1 week after the procedure. Many of the described events were caused by factors that should be amenable to prospective system improvement strategies.
PMCID: PMC3614343  PMID: 22183626
Tracheotomy; patient safety; quality
23.  Factors associated with early mortality after cervical spinal cord injury 
A relatively high early mortality rate (<30 days post-injury) for cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) has been observed.
To investigate this early mortality rate observed after cervical SCI and analyze the associated influential factors.
Medical records for 1163 patients with cervical SCI were reviewed, and the number of patients with early mortality was documented. Through logistic regression analysis, the effects of age, gender, occupation, cause of injury, severity of injury, highest involved spinal cord segment, nutritional condition during hospitalization, surgical treatment, tracheotomy, etc., on early mortality were assessed. Implementation of early treatment (i.e. surgery, tracheotomy, and nutritional support) and its effect on patient prognosis were also analyzed.
Early mortality occurred in 109 of 1163 patients (9.4%). Four factors affected the early mortality rate, including level and severity of SCI, whether or not surgery was performed, the time interval between SCI and surgery, malnutrition, and tracheotomy. Patients with an American Spinal Injury Association grade of A, a high cervical SCI (C1–C3), and/or no surgical intervention were statistically more likely to have early mortality (P < 0.001).
Severe cervical SCI, upper-level cervical cord injury, malnutrition, and inappropriate tracheotomy are risk factors for early mortality in patients with cervical SCI. Surgery can reduce early mortality. Early tracheotomy should be performed in patients with complete upper-level cervical SCI, but patients with incomplete cervical SCI or complete low-level cervical SCI should initially be treated surgically to maintain smooth airway flow.
PMCID: PMC3237281  PMID: 22330110
Mortality; Risk factors; Spinal cord injuries; Cervical; Malnutrition; Tracheotomy; Ventilation; Mechanical
24.  The trisomy 18 syndrome 
The trisomy 18 syndrome, also known as Edwards syndrome, is a common chromosomal disorder due to the presence of an extra chromosome 18, either full, mosaic trisomy, or partial trisomy 18q. The condition is the second most common autosomal trisomy syndrome after trisomy 21. The live born prevalence is estimated as 1/6,000-1/8,000, but the overall prevalence is higher (1/2500-1/2600) due to the high frequency of fetal loss and pregnancy termination after prenatal diagnosis. The prevalence of trisomy 18 rises with the increasing maternal age. The recurrence risk for a family with a child with full trisomy 18 is about 1%.
Currently most cases of trisomy 18 are prenatally diagnosed, based on screening by maternal age, maternal serum marker screening, or detection of sonographic abnormalities (e.g., increased nuchal translucency thickness, growth retardation, choroid plexus cyst, overlapping of fingers, and congenital heart defects ). The recognizable syndrome pattern consists of major and minor anomalies, prenatal and postnatal growth deficiency, an increased risk of neonatal and infant mortality, and marked psychomotor and cognitive disability. Typical minor anomalies include characteristic craniofacial features, clenched fist with overriding fingers, small fingernails, underdeveloped thumbs, and short sternum. The presence of major malformations is common, and the most frequent are heart and kidney anomalies. Feeding problems occur consistently and may require enteral nutrition.
Despite the well known infant mortality, approximately 50% of babies with trisomy 18 live longer than 1 week and about 5-10% of children beyond the first year. The major causes of death include central apnea, cardiac failure due to cardiac malformations, respiratory insufficiency due to hypoventilation, aspiration, or upper airway obstruction and, likely, the combination of these and other factors (including decisions regarding aggressive care). Upper airway obstruction is likely more common than previously realized and should be investigated when full care is opted by the family and medical team.
The complexity and the severity of the clinical presentation at birth and the high neonatal and infant mortality make the perinatal and neonatal management of babies with trisomy 18 particularly challenging, controversial, and unique among multiple congenital anomaly syndromes. Health supervision should be diligent, especially in the first 12 months of life, and can require multiple pediatric and specialist evaluations.
PMCID: PMC3520824  PMID: 23088440
25.  Timing of Tracheotomy in Mechanically Ventilated Critically Ill Morbidly Obese Patients 
Background. The optimal timing of tracheotomy and its impact on weaning from mechanical ventilation in critically ill morbidly obese patients remain controversial. Methods. We conducted a retrospective chart review of morbidly obese subjects (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2 or BMI ≥ 35 kg/m2 and one or more comorbid conditions) who underwent a tracheotomy between July 2008 and June 2013 at a medical intensive care unit (ICU). Clinical characteristics, rates of nosocomial pneumonia (NP), weaning from mechanical ventilation (MV), and mortality rates were analyzed. Results. A total of 102 subjects (42 men and 60 women) were included; their mean age and BMI were 56.3 ± 15.1 years and 53.3 ± 13.6 kg/m2, respectively. There was no difference in the rate of NP between groups stratified by successful weaning from MV (P = 0.43). Mortality was significantly higher in those who failed to wean (P = 0.02). A cutoff value of 9 days for the time to tracheotomy provided the best balanced sensitivity (72%) and specificity (59.8%) for predicting NP onset. Rates of NP and total duration of MV were significantly higher in those who had tracheostomy ≥ 9 days (P = 0.004 and P = 0.002, resp.). Conclusions. The study suggests that tracheotomy in morbidly obese subjects performed within the first 9 days may reduce MV and decrease NP but may not affect hospital mortality.
PMCID: PMC4178908  PMID: 25298891

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