Hospital variation in sphincter-preservation rates in rectal cancer treatment: results of a population-based study in the Netherlands

T. Koëter, L. C. F. de Nes, D. K. Wasowicz, D. D. E. Zimmerman, R. H. A. Verhoeven, M. A. Elferink, J. H. W. de Wilt

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BACKGROUND: This study aimed to examine the sphincter-preservation rate variations in rectal cancer surgery. The influence of hospital volume on sphincter-preservation rates and short-term outcomes (anastomotic leakage (AL), positive circumferential resection margin (CRM), 30- and 90-day mortality rates) were also analysed. METHODS: Non-metastasized rectal cancer patients treated between 2009 and 2016 were selected from the Netherlands Cancer Registry. Surgical procedures were divided into sphincter-preserving surgery and an end colostomy group. Multivariable logistic regression models were generated to estimate the probability of undergoing sphincter-preserving surgery according to the hospital of surgery and tumour height (low, 5 cm or less, mid, more than 5 cm to 10 cm, and high, more than 10 cm). The influence of annual hospital volume (less than 20, 20-39, more than 40 resections) on sphincter-preservation rate and short-term outcomes was also examined. RESULTS: A total of 20 959 patients were included (11 611 sphincter preservation and 8079 end colostomy) and the observed median sphincter-preservation rate in low, mid and high rectal cancer was 29.3, 75.6 and 87.9 per cent respectively. After case-mix adjustment, hospital of surgery was a significant factor for patients' likelihood for sphincter preservation in all three subgroups (P < 0.001). In mid rectal cancer, borderline higher rates of sphincter preservation were associated with low-volume hospitals (odds ratio 1.20, 95 per cent c.i. 1.01 to 1.43). No significant association between annual hospital volume and sphincter-preservation rate in low and high rectal cancer nor short-term outcomes (AL, positive CRM rate and 30- and 90-day mortality rates) was identified. CONCLUSION: This population-based study showed a significant hospital variation in sphincter-preservation rates in rectal surgery. The annual hospital volume, however, was not associated with sphincter-preservation rates in low, and high rectal cancer nor with other short-term outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBJS open
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2021

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