Pediatric Surgical Risk Assessment Tools: A Systematic Review

Dabin Ji, Steven L. Goudy, Mehul V Raval, Nikhila Raol*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Pediatric surgical risk assessment tools use patient- and procedure-specific variables to predict postoperative complications. These tools assist clinicians in preoperative counseling and surgical decision-making. The objective of this systematic literature review was to compile and compare existing pediatric surgical risk tools that are broadly applicable across pediatric surgical specialties. Methods: A systematic literature review was performed following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews (PRISMA) guidelines. Relevant publications were identified and screened based on predefined eligibility criteria: (1) a preoperative risk assessment tool predicting postoperative complications or mortality, (2) applicable across various surgical specialties, and (3) pertinent to the pediatric population. Studies with specialty- or procedure-specific risk scores and validation studies were excluded. Included articles were assessed for quality and risk of bias by using the Newcastle–Ottawa Scale. Results: Four studies met inclusion criteria. Risk factors were evaluated across the models as proxies for operative suitability of patients before surgery. Risk factors common to all studies were the presence of cardiovascular or neurological diseases and history of prematurity. Three of the four included studies defined most risk factors in binary terms, whereas one study used a scale of severity of organ system disease when defining preoperative risk. Generated risk score models provided good to strong concordance with inpatient mortality or postoperative complications, with c-statistic values ranging from 0.77 to 0.98. Conclusions: Each study reported an assessment of a novel, generally applicable pediatric surgical risk assessment tool for risk-stratifying children preoperatively for complications that rise after surgery. More studies are needed to assess generalizability in all populations and procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-282
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Pediatrics
  • Postoperative complications
  • Risk assessment
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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