Cerebral Palsy Patients Face Higher Risk of Surgical Complications: Study

Individuals with cerebral palsy face an increased risk of experiencing surgical complications, and have to be readmitted to the hospital more frequently than other patients undergoing surgical procedures, according to the findings of a new study.

Researchers from Rush University say the complex health situations for those with cerebral palsy lead to both more complications after surgery, as well as longer hospital stays.

The findings were published last month in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery, evaluating data from the NSQIP-Pediatric database of nearly 120,000 patients from 2012 to 2019.

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Researchers wanted to compare differences in surgical outcomes between patients with and without cerebral palsy. Overall, 433 patients had cerebral palsy and 119,279 patients did not have the condition.

Among patients with cerebral palsy, researchers note that there were more postoperative complications than those who did not have the condition. About 19% of patients with cerebral palsy suffered complications, compared to only 7% of those without the condition.

Patients with cerebral palsy were also readmitted to the hospital more often than those without the condition. They also needed repeat operations more frequently and had to stay in the hospital longer than patients who did not have cerebral palsy, according to the findings.

While patients with cerebral palsy faced many more complications and other side effects of surgery, they did not have a higher death rate than patients without cerebral palsy.

“Patients with cerebral palsy have more postoperative complications, open procedures, and longer length of stay,” wrote study authors. “Patient complexity may account for these differences and risk-directed perioperative planning may improve outcomes.”

Prior research indicates congenital lung malformation, gastrointestinal disease, coagulopathy, preoperative inotropic support, oxygen use, nutritional support, steroid use, and higher ASA physical status classification, or how fit a person is for surgery, significantly increase the risk of death to surgical patients. All of these conditions are more commonly experienced by cerebral palsy patients.

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder which may be attributed to brain damage suffered before, during or shortly after birth. If the child’s brain is deprived of oxygen around the time of birth, it can result in irreversible damage that leaves the child with developmental problems, loss of motor functions and other life-long injuries and disabilities.

While there is no cure for the disorder, early diagnosis may increase the treatment options and the likelihood that the severity of cerebral palsy may be reduced, resulting in permanent improvements in quality of life for the child.

In many cases, cerebral palsy is caused by a birth injury or medical mistake that may have been prevented by the exercise of the proper standards of medical care. In those cases, families may be able to pursue financial compensation for the child through a cerebral palsy malpractice lawsuit.

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