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1.  Process improvement in surgery 
PMCID: PMC3908986  PMID: 24461217
2.  Amélioration des processus en chirurgie 
PMCID: PMC3908987
4.  Development of an orthopedic surgery trauma patient handover checklist 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2014;57(1):8-14.
In surgery, preoperative handover of surgical trauma patients is a process that must be made as safe as possible. We sought to determine vital clinical information to be transferred between patient care teams and to develop a standardized handover checklist.
We conducted standardized small-group interviews about trauma patient handover. Based on this information, we created a questionnaire to gather perspectives from all Canadian Orthopaedic Association (COA) members about which topics they felt would be most important on a handover checklist. We analyzed the responses to develop a standardized handover checklist.
Of the 1106 COA members, 247 responded to the questionnaire. The top 7 topics felt to be most important for achieving patient safety in the handover were comorbidities, diagnosis, readiness for the operating room, stability, associated injuries, history/mechanism of injury and outstanding issues. The expert recommendations were to have handover completed the same way every day, all appropriate radiographs available, adequate time, all appropriate laboratory work and more time to spend with patients with more severe illness.
Our main recommendations for safe handover are to use standardized checklists specific to the patient and site needs. We provide an example of a standardized checklist that should be used for preoperative handovers. To our knowledge, this is the first checklist for handover developed by a group of experts in orthopedic surgery, which is both manageable in length and simple to use.
PMCID: PMC3908989  PMID: 24461220
5.  Implementation of a novel night float call system: resident satisfaction and quality of life 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2014;57(1):15-20.
Compliance with Professional Association of Internes and Residents of Ontario duty hour guidelines has been problematic at our institution. To facilitate orthopedic residents’ ability to go home postcall without significant disruption of ongoing clinical activities, a novel call system was adopted at our tertiary care centre. We sought to evaluate the satisfaction and quality of life of orthopaedic residents with that system.
We administered questionnaires to on-service residents. These included the Short Form–36 questionnaire and others addressing topics including education, stress, work-related problems and miscellaneous concerns.
Seventeen residents were surveyed: 6 who had just completed a night float rotation, and 11 who were on a regular orthopedic service rotation while the night float system was in place. Quality of life was similar between residents on the night float block and those on the standard rotation; it was also similar to age-matched Canadian normative data. Eighty-nine percent of residents agreed that the presence of the night float rotation improved their quality of life on standard rotations, and 100% felt that their education was improved on standard rotations by having the night float system in place.
This call system results in improved resident quality of life and widespread overall satisfaction, and may be considered as a viable alternative to traditional call formats. Follow-up data as more residents experience the night float block will be valuable.
PMCID: PMC3908990  PMID: 24461221
6.  Cephalic vein cutdown for totally implantable central venous port in children: a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2014;57(1):21-25.
The jugular vein cutdown for a totally implantable central venous port (TICVP) has 2 disadvantages: 2 separate incisions are needed and the risk for multiple vein occlusions. We sought to evaluate the feasibility of a cephalic vein (CV) cutdown in children.
We prospectively followed patients who underwent a venous cutdown for implantation of a TICVP between Jan. 1, 2002, and Dec. 31, 2006. For patients younger than 8 months, an external jugular vein cutdown was initially tried without attempting a CV cutdown. For patients older than 8 months, a CV cutdown was tried initially. We recorded information on age, weight, outcome of the CV cutdown and complications.
During the study period, 143 patients underwent a venous cutdown for implantation of a TICVP: 25 younger and 118 older than 8 months. The CV cutdown was successful in 73 of 118 trials. The 25th percentile and median body weight for 73 successful cases were 15.4 kg and 28.3 kg, respectively. There was a significant difference in the success rate using the criterion of 15 kg as the cutoff. The overall complication rate was 8.2%.
The CV cutdown was an acceptable procedure for TICVP in children. It could be preferentially considered for patients weighing more than 15 kg who require TICVP.
PMCID: PMC3908991  PMID: 24461222
7.  Adherence to adjuvant endocrine therapy in estrogen receptor–positive breast cancer patients with regular follow-up 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2014;57(1):26-32.
Adjuvant hormonal therapy is crucial in the treatment of estrogen receptor–positive breast cancer. The nonadherence rate to hormonal treatment is reported to be as high as 60%. The goal of this study was to evaluate the factors evoked by the patients as well as the demographic and disease-related factors that could be associated with nonadherence to adjuvant hormonal therapy.
All consecutive patients treated for an estrogen receptor–positive breast cancer who showed up for regular follow-up with a single breast specialist between November 2008 and April 2009 were included in the study. We assessed adherence to hormonal therapy (either with tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitor). Reasons for adherence and nonadherence were collected. Records were also reviewed for demographic and cancer characteristics and for treatment components.
We included 161 patients in the study; 150 (93.2%) adhered to hormonal treatment. Side effects and absence of conviction were the main reasons for nonadherence. The importance of the diagnosis of cancer, fear of recurrence and regular follow-up were reported as the main reasons for adherence.
Severity of disease and side effects are associated with nonadherence to treatment. Strict follow-up appears to be a necessary adjunct in the adherence to treatment. The association between demographic and cancer characteristics and treatment components needs further investigation. However, these factors may help identify patients at risk of nonadherence and help the oncology team.
PMCID: PMC3908992  PMID: 24461223
8.  Prioritization and willingness to pay for bariatric surgery: the patient perspective 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2014;57(1):33-39.
Access to publicly funded bariatric surgery is limited, potential candidates face lengthy waits, and no universally accepted prioritization criteria exist. We examined patients’ perspectives regarding prioritization for surgery.
We surveyed consecutively recruited patients awaiting bariatric surgery about 9 hypothetical scenarios describing patients waiting for surgery. Respondents were asked to rank the priority of these hypothetical patients on the wait list relative to their own. Scenarios examined variations in age, clinical severity, functional impairment, social dependence and socioeconomic status. Willingness to pay for faster access was assessed using a 5-point ordinal scale and analyzed using multivariable logistic regression.
The 99 respondents had mean age of 44.7 ± 9.9 years, 76% were women, and the mean body mass index was 47.3 ± SD 7.6. The mean wait for surgery was 34.4 ± 9.4 months. Respondents assigned similar priority to hypothetical patients with characteristics identical to theirs (p = 0.22) and higher priority (greater urgency) to those exhibiting greater clinical severity (p < 0.001) and functional impairment (p = 0.003). Lower priority was assigned to patients at the extremes of age (p = 0.006), on social assistance (p < 0.001) and of high socioeconomic status (p < 0.001). Most (85%) respondents disagreed with payment to expedite access, although participants earning more than $80 000/year were less likely to disagree.
Most patients waiting for bariatric surgery consider greater clinical severity and functional impairments related to obesity to be important prioritization indicators and disagreed with paying for faster access. These findings may help inform future efforts to develop acceptable prioritization strategies for publicly funded bariatric surgery.
PMCID: PMC3908993  PMID: 24461224
9.  A comparison of surgical delays in directly admitted versus transferred patients with hip fractures: Opportunities for improvement? 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2014;57(1):40-43.
The increasing incidence of hip fractures in our aging population challenges orthopedic surgeons and hospital administrators to effectively care for these patients. Many patients present to regional hospitals and are transferred to tertiary care centres for surgical management, resulting in long delays to surgery. Providing timely care may improve outcomes, as delay carries an increased risk of morbidity and mortality.
We retrospectively reviewed the cases of all patients with hip fractures treated in a single Level 1 trauma centre in Canada between 2005 and 2012. We compared quality indicators and outcomes between patients transferred from a peripheral hospital and those directly admitted to the trauma centre.
Of the 1191 patients retrospectively reviewed, 890 met our inclusion criteria: 175 who were transferred and 715 admitted directly to the trauma centre. Transfer patients’ median delay from admission to operation was 93 hours, whereas nontransfer patients waited 44 hours (p < 0.001). The delay predominantly occurred before transfer, as the patients had to wait for a bed to become available at the trauma centre. The median length of stay in hospital was 20 days for transfer patients compared with 13 days for nontransfer patients (p < 0.001). Regional policy changes enacted in 2011 decreased the median transfer delay from regional hospital to tertiary care centre from 47 to 27 hours (p = 0.005).
Policy changes can have a significant impact on patient care. Prioritizing patients and expediting transfer will decrease overall mortality, reduce hospital stay and reduce the cost of hip fracture care.
PMCID: PMC3908994  PMID: 24461225
10.  Viability assessment of the chondral flap in patients with cam-type femoroacetabular impingement: a preliminary report 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2014;57(1):44-48.
Delaminated acetabular cartilage is a common finding in patients undergoing surgical dislocation or hip arthroscopy in the treatment of cam-type femoroacetabular impingement. Current treatment involves resection of the free cartilage flap with or without acetabular rim trimming. The viability of the delaminated cartilage flap is not known. We sought to examine if the acetabular cartilage still has viable cartilage cells and, if so, what type of cartilage is present.
We examined the delaminated cartilage flaps from patients undergoing surgical dislocation and osteochondroplasty for symptomatic cam-type impingement. We performed hematoxylin and eosin staining and histological analysis using light microscopy to determine cartilage viability and cartilage type.
We examined 12 delaminated cartilage flaps from 11 patients (10 men, 1 woman, average age 30.1 yr). Ninety percent chondrocyte viability was confirmed in 11 of 12 flaps. Six of 12 flaps were composed predominantly of hyaline cartilage, 4 were a mixed population of fibrocartilage and hyaline cartilage and 2 were predominantly fibrocartilage.
Our findings suggest that the delaminated cartilage flap in patients with femoroacetabular impingement may retain a large amount of viable chondrocytes. Development of surgical techniques focusing on refixation of this flap as an alternative to excision and microfracture should be considered.
PMCID: PMC3908995  PMID: 24461226
11.  Retrospective review of injury severity, interventions and outcomes among helicopter and nonhelicopter transport patients at a Level 1 urban trauma centre 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2014;57(1):49-54.
Air ambulance transport for injured patients is vitally important given increasing patient volumes, the limited number of trauma centres and inadequate subspecialty coverage in nontrauma hospitals. Air ambulance services have been shown to improve patient outcomes compared with ground transport in select circumstances. Our primary goal was to compare injuries, interventions and outcomes in patients transported by helicopter versus nonhelicopter transport.
We performed a retrospective 10-year review of 14 440 patients transported to an urban Level 1 trauma centre by helicopter or by other means. We compared injury severity, interventions and mortality between the groups.
Patients transported by helicopter had higher median injury severity scores (ISS), regardless of penetrating or blunt injury, and were more likely to have Glasgow Coma Scale scores less than 8, require airway control, receive blood transfusions and require admission to the intensive care unit or operating room than patients transported by other means. Helicopter transport was associated with reduced overall mortality (odds ratio 0.41, 95% confidence interval 0.33–0.39). Patients transported by other methods were more likely to die in the emergency department. The mean ISS, regardless of transport method, rose from 12.3 to 15.1 (p = 0.011) during our study period.
Patients transported by helicopter to an urban trauma centre were more severely injured, required more interventions and had improved survival than those arriving by other means of transport.
PMCID: PMC3908996  PMID: 24461227
12.  Damage control resuscitation: history, theory and technique 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2014;57(1):55-60.
Damage control resuscitation (DCR) represents the natural evolution of the initial concept of damage control surgery. It currently includes early blood product transfusion, immediate arrest and/or temporization of ongoing hemorrhage (i.e., temporary intravascular shunts and/or balloon tamponade) as well as restoration of blood volume and physiologic/hematologic stability. As a result, DCR addresses the early coagulopathy of trauma, avoids massive crystalloid resuscitation and leaves the peritoneal cavity open when a patient approaches physiologic exhaustion without improvement. This concept also applies to severe injuries within anatomical transition zones as well as extremities. This review will discuss each of these concepts in detail.
PMCID: PMC3908997  PMID: 24461267
13.  The merits of cell salvage in arthroplasty surgery: an overview 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2014;57(1):61-66.
Arthroplasty entails considerable exposure to allogenic blood transfusion. Cell salvage with washing is a contemporary strategy that is not universally used despite considerable potential benefits. We searched Embase and Medline to determine if blood salvage with washing during primary and/or revision hip and knee arthroplasty results in lower rates of transfusion and postoperative complications. We included 10 studies in our analysis, which we rated according to Downs and Black criteria. With primary knee arthroplasty, there was a reduction in transfusion rate from 22% to 76% and a 48% reduction in transfusion volume (n = 887). With primary hip arthroplasty, there was a reduction from 69% to 73% in transfusion rate and a 31% reduction in transfusion volume (n = 239). There was a significant decrease in length of hospital stay (9.6 v. 13.6 d). Studies of revision arthroplasty reported a 31%–59% reduction in transfusion volume (n = 241). The available evidence demonstrates reduced exposure to allogenic blood with the use of salvage systems. Studies have been underpowered to detect differences in infection rates and other postoperative complications. Future cost analysis is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3908998  PMID: 24461268
15.  REVIEWERS 2013 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2014;57(1):70-71.
PMCID: PMC3909000
16.  Sustainability, cost and exchange 
PMCID: PMC3909001  PMID: 24461270
17.  Consensus ad idem: a protocol for development of consensus statements 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2013;56(6):365.
PMCID: PMC3859775  PMID: 24284140
20.  The reliability of differentiating neurogenic claudication from vascular claudication based on symptomatic presentation 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2013;56(6):372-377.
Intermittent claudication can be neurogenic or vascular. Physicians use a profile based on symptom attributes to differentiate the 2 types of claudication, and this guides their investigations for diagnosis of the underlying pathology. We evaluated the validity of these symptom attributes in differentiating neurogenic from vascular claudication.
Patients with a diagnosis of lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) or peripheral vascular disease (PVD) who reported claudication answered 14 questions characterizing their symptoms. We determined the sensitivity, specificity and positive and negative likelihood ratios (PLR and NLR) for neurogenic and vascular claudication for each symptom attribute.
We studied 53 patients. The most sensitive symptom attribute to rule out LSS was the absence of “triggering of pain with standing alone” (sensitivity 0.97, NLR 0.050). Pain alleviators and symptom location data showed a weak clinical significance for LSS and PVD. Constellation of symptoms yielded the strongest associations: patients with a positive shopping cart sign whose symptoms were located above the knees, triggered with standing alone and relieved with sitting had a strong likelihood of neurogenic claudication (PLR 13). Patients with symptoms in the calf that were relieved with standing alone had a strong likelihood of vascular claudication (PLR 20.0).
The classic symptom attributes used to differentiate neurogenic from vascular claudication are at best weakly valid independently. However, certain constellation of symptoms are much more indicative of etiology. These results can guide general practitioners in their evaluation of and investigation for claudication.
PMCID: PMC3859778  PMID: 24284143
21.  Functional outcomes and cost estimation for extra-articular and simple intra-articular distal radius fractures treated with open reduction and internal fixation versus closed reduction and percutaneous Kirschner wire fixation 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2013;56(6):378-384.
We sought to compare direct costs and clinical and radiographic outcomes for distal radius fractures (DRF) treated with open reduction internal fixation with volar locking plates (VLP) versus closed reduction and percutaneous pinning (CRPP).
We identified patients with AO-type A and C1 DRFs from a prospective database. Outcomes were assessed at 6 weeks and at 3, 6 and 12 months, and surgical care costs were estimated.
Twenty patients were treated with CRPP and 24 with VLP. There were no significant differences in patient-rated wrist evaluation (PRWE) scores between the 2 groups at any time point (mean 16.2 ± 23.1 in the CRPP group v. 21.5 ± 23.6 in the VLP group, p = 0.91). Overall alignment was maintained in both groups; however, there was a greater loss of radial height over time with CRPP than VLP (0.97 mm v. 0.25 mm, p = 0.018). The mean duration of surgery was longer for VLP than CRPP (113.9 ± 39.5 min v. 86.5 ± 7.8 min, p = 0.029), but there were fewer clinic visits (5.2 ± 1.4 v. 7.8 ± 1.3, p < 0.001) and fewer radiographs (7.4 ± 2.7 v. 9 ± 2.4, p = 0.031). The total cost per case was greater for VLP than CRPP ($1637.27 v. $733.91).
Based on PRWE scores, VLPs did not offer any significant advantage over CRPP in patients with simple fracture types between 3 and 12 months, but they were much more costly. Whether VLP offers any functional advantage earlier in recovery, thereby justifying their expense, requires further investigation in the form of a prospective randomized trial with a detailed cost analysis.
PMCID: PMC3859779  PMID: 24284144
22.  Limited adequacy of thyroid cancer patient follow-up at a Canadian tertiary care centre 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2013;56(6):385-392.
We sought to evaluate the adequacy of follow-up of thyroid cancer patients at a Canadian centre.
We mailed a survey to the family physicians of thyroid cancer patients and analyzed the findings relative to follow-up guidelines published by the American Thyroid Association (ATA). Statistical significance between early and late follow-up patterns was analyzed using the χ2 test.
Our survey response rate was 56.2% (91 of 162). The time from operation ranged from 1.24–7.13 (mean 3.96) years, and 87.9% of patients had undergone a physical exam within the previous year. Only 37.4% and 14% of patients had a serum thyroglobulin measurement within 6 and between 6 and 12 months before the survey, respectively. Thyroid simulating hormone (TSH) levels were measured within the prior 6 months in 67% of patients and between 6 and 12 months in 13.2%. The TSH levels were suppressed (< 0.1 μIU/L) in 24.2% of patients, 0.1–2 μIU/L in 44% and greater than 2 μIU/L in 17.6%. Ultrasonography was the most common imaging test performed.
There is significant variation in the follow-up patterns of patients with thyroid cancer, and there is considerable deviation from current ATA guidelines.
PMCID: PMC3859780  PMID: 24284145
23.  Quality of inguinal hernia operative reports: room for improvement 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2013;56(6):393-397.
Operative reports (ORs) serve as the official documentation of surgical procedures. They are essential for optimal patient care, physician accountability and billing, and direction for clinical research and auditing. Nonstandardized narrative reports are often of poor quality and lacking in detail. We sought to audit the completeness of narrative inguinal hernia ORs.
A standardized checklist for inguinal hernia repair (IHR) comprising 33 variables was developed by consensus of 4 surgeons. Five high-volume IHR surgeons categorized items as essential, preferable or nonessential. We audited ORs for open IHR at 6 academic hospitals.
We audited 213 ORs, and we excluded 7 femoral hernia ORs. Tension-free repairs were the most common (82.5%), and the plug-and-patch technique was the most frequent (52.9%). Residents dictated 59% of ORs. Of 33 variables, 15 were considered essential and, on average, 10.8 ± 1.3 were included. Poorly reported elements included first occurrence versus recurrent repair (8.3%), small bowel viability in incarcerated hernias (10.7%) and occurrence of intraoperative complications (32.5%). Of 18 nonessential elements, deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis, preoperative antibiotics and urgency were reported in 1.9%, 11.7% and 24.3% of ORs, respectively. Repair-specific details were reported in 0 to 97.1% of ORs, including patch sutured to tubercle (55.1%) and location of plug (67.0%).
Completeness of IHR ORs varied with regards to essential and nonessential items but were generally incomplete, suggesting there is opportunity for improvement, including implementation of a standardized synoptic OR.
PMCID: PMC3859781  PMID: 24284146
24.  On-pump beating-heart versus conventional coronary artery bypass grafting for revascularization in patients with severe left ventricular dysfunction: early outcomes 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2013;56(6):398-404.
We sought to evaluate the effects of on-pump beating-heart versus conventional coronary artery bypass grafting techniques requiring cardioplegic arrest in patients with coronary artery disease with left ventricular dysfunction.
We report the early outcomes associated with survival, morbidity and improvement of left ventricular function in patients with low ejection fraction who underwent coronary artery bypass grafting between August 2009 and June 2012. Patients were separated into 2 groups: group I underwent conventional coronary artery bypass grafting and group II underwent an on-pump beating-heart technique without cardioplegic arrest.
In all, 131 patients underwent coronary artery bypass grafting: 66 in group I and 65 in group II. Left ventricular ejection fraction was 26.6% ± 3.5% in group I and 27.7% ± 4.7% in group II. Left ventricular end diastolic diameter was 65.6 ± 3.6 mm in group I and 64.1 ± 3.2 mm in group II. There was a significant reduction in mortality in the conventional and on-pump beating-heart groups (p < 0.001). Perioperative myocardial infarction and low cardiac output syndrome were higher in group I than group II (both p < 0.05). Improvement of left ventricular function after the surgical procedure was better in group II than group I.
The on-pump beating-heart technique is the preferred method for myocardial revascularization in patients with left ventricular dysfunction. This technique may be an acceptable alternative to the conventional technique owing to lower postoperative mortality and morbidity.
PMCID: PMC3859782  PMID: 24284147
25.  Validity of vascular trauma codes at major trauma centres 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2013;56(6):405-408.
The use of administrative databases in vascular injury research has been increasing, but the validity of the diagnosis codes used in this research is uncertain. We assessed the positive predictive value (PPV) of International Classification of Diseases, tenth revision (ICD-10), vascular injury codes in administrative claims data in Ontario.
We conducted a retrospective validation study using the Canadian Institute for Health Information Discharge Abstract Database, an administrative database that records all hospital admissions in Canada. We evaluated 380 randomly selected hospital discharge abstracts from the 2 main trauma centres in Toronto, Ont., St. Michael’s Hospital and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, between Apr. 1, 2002, and Mar. 31, 2010. We then compared these records with the corresponding patients’ hospital charts to assess the level of agreement for procedure coding. We calculated the PPV and sensitivity to estimate the validity of vascular injury diagnosis coding.
The overall PPV for vascular injury coding was estimated to be 95% (95% confidence interval [CI] 92.3–96.8). The PPV among code groups for neck, thorax, abdomen, upper extremity and lower extremity injuries ranged from 90.8 (95% CI 82.2–95.5) to 97.4 (95% CI 91.0–99.3), whereas sensitivity ranged from 90% (95% CI 81.5–94.8) to 98.7% (95% CI 92.9–99.8).
Administrative claims hospital discharge data based on ICD-10 diagnosis codes have a high level of validity when identifying cases of vascular injury.
Level of evidence
Observational Study Level III.
PMCID: PMC3859783  PMID: 24284148

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