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Surgical Outcomes

Heart Center

Our congenital cardiothoracic surgery team at Phoenix Children’s Heart Center is committed to continuous improvement in patient safety and outcomes. As part of this, we participate in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) Congenital Heart Surgery Database which provides detailed surgery outcomes reports and compares our performance to other programs throughout the U.S. and Canada. Phoenix Children’s has been publicly reporting its surgical outcomes through STS since 2014 when public-outcomes reporting first became available across congenital heart surgery programs.

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The star rating system used by STS is based on the STS Congenital Heart Surgery Database (CHSD) mortality risk model. The model incorporates risk adjustment to more meaningfully compare a participating hospital to the aggregate of all hospitals that participate in the CHSD. For six consecutive years, Phoenix Children’s Heart Center has received a top “three stars” rating from STS — a result of better-than-expected operative survival for congenital heart surgeries.

STS ratings are released every six months and measure outcomes for the prior four years. The latest rating is based on congenital cardiothoracic surgery survival data from January 2015 to December 2018. Out of 117 participating programs, Phoenix Children’s is one of only 10 programs to receive three stars — indicating our congenital heart surgery survival outcomes are among the best in the country. 

The data reported below reflects congenital cardiothoracic surgery outcomes, on a rolling basis, from the latest STS report. Our data is reanalyzed every six months to allow for recent volumes to be included and reported.

Surgery Volumes and Operation Type

Phoenix Children’s Heart Center is a high-volume program—meaning, on average we perform more than 250 cardiac operations (procedures on the major vessels or structures of the heart, with or without cardiopulmonary bypass) every year.

CPB—operations where cardiopulmonary bypass was used
Non-CPB CV—operations where cardiopulmonary bypass was not used
ECMO—extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
Thoracic—operations on the lungs or chest structures
VAD—ventricular assist device
Minor—operations not involving the major structures of the heart and lungs

Congenital Cardiothoracic Surgery Total Volume by Age

Our Phoenix Children’s team operates on patients with congenital heart disease from birth through adulthood. Neonates are patients aged 0 – 30 days. Infants are patients from one month to 12 months old. Children are patients between one and 18 years old, and adults are patients over the age of 18.


Survival Rates and Lengths of Stay

The overall risk-adjusted survival rate following heart surgery at Phoenix Children’s is statistically better than expected, per CHSD reporting. Length of stay (LOS) refers to the length of time a post-operative patient stays in the hospital. The numbers below reflect median lengths of stay following selected procedures.


Risk Adjusted Mortality Rates

Every patient who receives heart surgery at Phoenix Children’s is unique. The CHSD incorporates case-mix (risk) adjustment to account for complexity differences among patients — variables include age, weight, any chromosomal abnormality or syndrome, and more. Risk adjustment supports more meaningful reporting by taking these patient-specific differentiators into account. The risk adjusted mortality rate at Phoenix Children’s is less than expected, given the complexity of our patients’ cases.


Survival Rates by STAT Mortality Category

STAT Mortality Categories classify surgeries from STAT 1 to STAT 5 in order of the procedure’s difficulty. STAT Mortality Categories were developed by STS in collaboration with the European Association for Cardiothoracic Surgery (EACTS).


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