AIM: To compare different selective criteria for Internal Care Unit (ICU) admission in two different timeframes, after abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) repair. A retrospective audit of acquired data was performed.
METHODS: During a period of fourteen years (1994-2008), 1152 patients underwent an elective open operation for infrarenal abdominal aortic aneurysm, in our department. Six hundred and two patients (Group A) were treated in the period January 1994-January 2003, and 550 patients (Group B) between January 2003 and August 2008. Postoperatively, all patients were transferred to postanesthesia unit (PAU). After a 2 hours period of close observation, they were transferred either to the ICU or to the surgical ward, according to certain selective criteria (SC). In group A we used SC-A, for admission to an ICU, and in group B we used new, stricter, criteria (SC-B). Thirty-day mortality and morbidity, elective admissions to ICU, rate of subsequent ICU admission, from ward to ICU, and the mean hospital and ICU length of stay, were compared between the two groups.
RESULTS: The use of SC-B resulted in a significant reduction of elective admissions to ICU (3.1% vs 8.5%, P<0.001). Nevertheless, the portion of patients, which were transferred with a severe postoperative complication from the ward to ICU, remained similar between the two groups (1.1% vs 0,9%, in group A and B, respectively). All other endpoints were similar in both groups.
CONCLUSION: Modifying the protocol of ICU transfer, after elective abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, we can reduce the number of patients requiring ICU, without compromising patients' safety.