The effect of patient transfer on outcomes after rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm

Heather Hames, Thomas L. Forbes, Jeremy R. Harris, D. Kirk Lawlor, Guy DeRose, Kenneth A. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Objective: Centralization of vascular surgery services has resulted in patients being transferred longer distances for treatment of life-threatening conditions. The purpose of this study was to determine whether patient transfer adversely affects the survival of people with a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (RAAA). Methods: We performed a retrospective review of all patients undergoing attempted repair of an RAAA at our centre, over a recent 3.5-year period (August 2000-December 2003). Patients were divided into those presenting directly to our centre and those transferred from another hospital. The main outcome variable was in-hospital or 30-day mortality, with secondary variables including time to surgical treatment, mortality in the first 24 hours and length of hospitalization. Results: Eighty-one patients (73% men) underwent attempted open repair of an RAAA at our centre during this period. Twenty-four patients (29.6%) presented directly to our hospital, while 57 (70.4%) were transferred from another institution. The overall mortality rate was 53%. Although transferred patients took twice as long as direct patients to get to the operating room (6.3 v. 3.2 h, p = 0.03), there was no difference in mortality between the 2 groups (50% v. 54%, p = ns). However, deaths of transferred patients were more likely to occur in the first 24 postoperative hours, compared with direct patients (40% v. 33%, p < 0.05). Neither mean intensive care unit stay (5.8 and 8.1 d) nor total hospitalization (20.9 and 18.8 d) differed between the 2 groups. Conclusions: Although the transfer of patients with RAAA results in a treatment delay, it does not adversely affect the already high mortality rates associated with this condition. These results may be attributed to a preselection of patients who are able to tolerate such a delay.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-47
Number of pages5
JournalCanadian Journal of Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


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