Influence of sub-specialty surgical care on outcomes for pediatric emergency general surgery patients in a low-middle income country

Document Type



Anaesthesia; Paediatrics and Child Health; General Surgery


Background: Whether adult general surgeons should handle pediatric emergencies is controversial. In many resource-limited settings, pediatric surgeons are not available. The study examined differences in surgical outcomes among children/adolescents managed by pediatric and adult general surgery teams for emergency general surgical (EGS) conditions at a university-hospital in South Asia.
Methods: Pediatric patients (<18y) admitted with an EGS diagnosis (March 2009-April 2014) were included. Patients were dichotomized by adult vs. pediatric surgical management team. Outcome measures included: length of stay (LOS), mortality, and occurrence of ≥1 complication(s). Descriptive statistics and multivariable regression analyses with propensity scores to account for potential confounding were used to compare outcomes between the two groups. Quasi-experimental counterfactual models further examined hypothetical outcomes, assuming that all patients had been treated by pediatric surgeons.
Results: A total of 2323 patients were included. Average age was 7.1y (±5.5 SD); most patients were male (77.7%). 1958 (84.3%) were managed by pediatric surgery. The overall probability of developing a complication was 1.8%; 0.9% died (all adult general surgery). Patients managed by adult general surgery had higher risk-adjusted odds of developing complications (OR [95%CI]: 5.42 [2.10-14.00]) and longer average LOS (7.98 vs. 5.61 days, p < 0.01). 39.8% fewer complications and an 8.2% decrease in LOS would have been expected if all patients had been managed by pediatric surgery.
Conclusion: Pediatric patients had better post-operative outcomes under pediatric surgical supervision, suggesting that, where possible in resource-constrained settings, resources should be allocated to promote development and staffing of pediatric surgical specialties parallel to adult general surgical teams.


Issue no. are not provided by the author/publisher. This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

International Journal of Surgery