Oropharyngeal contamination predisposes to complications after neck dissection: An analysis of 9462 patients

Umang Jain, Jessica Somerville, Sujata Saha, Nicholas James Hackett, Jon P. Ver Halen*, Anuja K. Antony, Sandeep Samant

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective. While neck dissection is important in the treatment of head and neck cancer, there is a paucity of studies evaluating outcomes. We sought to compare preoperative variables and outcomes between clean and contaminated neck dissections, using the 2006-2011 American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) data sets. Study Design. Retrospective review of prospectively maintained database. Setting. Multicenter (university hospitals; tertiary referral centers). Subjects and Methods. A retrospective review was performed of the NSQIP database to identify patients undergoing neck dissection in clean vs oropharyngeal contaminated cases. Clinical factors, comorbidities, epidemiologic factors, and procedural characteristics were analyzed to identify factors associated with 30-day postoperative adverse events, including medical and surgical complications, unplanned reoperation, and mortality. Bivariate and multivariable analyses were performed for the outcome of one or more adverse events. Results. In total, 8890 patients had clean neck dissections, while 572 patients had neck wound contamination with oropharyngeal flora. On multivariable regression analysis, oropharyngeal contamination was a significant risk factor for surgical complications (odds ratio [OR], 3.42; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.96-5.96; P <.001). However, medical complications and mortality were not significantly different between the 2 cohorts. This finding persisted after subgroup analysis, with removal of all thyroidectomy patients from analysis (OR, 2.33; 95% CI, 1.25-4.36; P = .008). Conclusion. Using the ACS-NSQIP data set, this study found an increased risk of surgical complications in the setting of contaminated neck dissections. These data should be used for patient risk stratification, informed consent, and to guide further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-78
Number of pages8
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 3 2015


  • clean cases
  • contaminated cases
  • mortality
  • neck dissection
  • outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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