Thoracic Complications Overview

Complications: All Thoracic Surgery Cases, 2010-2014

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Complexity and extent of surgery importantly impacts risk of complications or death. The Providence Thoracic Surgery Program tracks the incidence of life threatening complications from the procedures we perform as an important program quality indicator. (Reference: STS General Thoracic Surgery Executive Summary, January 2002-June 2013.) We use these data to provide an ongoing scorecard, allowing programmatic improvement in patient selection criteria and care patterns.

Complications Definitions:

Pulmonary (lung)

  • Respiratory failure
  • Empyema (infection in chest cavity)
  • Pneumonia (infection in lung tissue)
  • Tracheostomy
  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clot to lung)
  • ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) – fluid in lung tissue
  • Bronchopleural fistula – windpipe leak
  • Reintubation (unplanned) – breathing tube in windpipe
  • Prolonged ventilation (>48 hours post op)

Gastrointestinal (GI tract)

  • Prolonged ileus (intestinal paralysis) > 3 days
  • Mechanical bowel obstruction
  • Anastomotic leak (site of reconstruction) requiring surgery (re-op)


  • Deep infection – involving deep soft tissue layers such as fascia and muscle
  • Organ space infection – involving body cavity, such as empyema or mediastinitis (see STS for more info)

Other (inclusive)

  • New renal failure
  • Stroke
  • Thrombophlebitis (blood clot in limb vein)
  • Septicemia (infection in blood stream)
  • Reoperation
  • Infection requiring IV antibiotics
  • Unexpected admission to ICU

Additional Outcomes Data

Case Mix | Length of Stay | Mortality | Lung Resection | Complication Overview
Pulmonary Resection Complications | Other Thoracic Complications | Selected STS Post-Operative Events
Advanced Procedures