Do the 2018 Leapfrog Group Minimal Hospital and Surgeon Volume Thresholds for Esophagectomy Favor Specific Patient Demographics?

James M. Clark, David T Cooke, Habiba Hashimi, David Chin, Garth H Utter, Lisa M Brown, Miriam A Nuno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: We examine how esophagectomy volume thresholds reflect outcomes relative to patient characteristics. Summary Background Data: Esophagectomy outcomes are associated with surgeon and hospital operative volumes, leading the Leapfrog Group to recommend minimum annual volume thresholds of 7 and 20 respectively. Methods: Patients undergoing esophagectomy for cancer were identified from the 2007-2013 New York and Florida Healthcare Cost and Utilization Projects State Inpatient Databases. Logit models adjusted for patient characteristics evaluated in-hospital mortality, complications, and prolonged length of stay (PLOS). Median surgeon and hospital volumes were compared between young-healthy (age 18-57, Elixhauser Comorbidity Index [ECI] <2) and older-sick patients (age -71, ECI >4). Results: Of 4330 esophagectomy patients, 3515 (81%) were male, median age was 64 (interquartile range 58-71), and mortality was 4.0%. Patients treated by both low-volume surgeons and hospitals had the greatest mortality risk (5.0%), except in the case of older-sick patients mortality was highest at high-volume hospitals with high-volume surgeons (12%). For mortality <1%, annual hospital and surgeon volumes needed were 23 and 8, respectively; mortality rose to 4.2% when volumes dropped to the Leapfrog thresholds of 20 and 7, respectively. Complication rose from 53% to 63% when hospital and surgeon volumes decreased from 28 and 10 to 19 and 7, respectively. PLOS rose from 19% to 27% when annual hospital and surgeon volumes decreased from 27 and 8 to 20 and 7, respectively. Conclusions: Current Leapfrog Group esophagectomy volume guidelines may not predict optimal outcomes for all patients, especially at extremes of age and comorbidities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAnnals of Surgery
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


  • centralization
  • esophagectomy
  • regionalization
  • surgical volume
  • The Leapfrog Group
  • volume thresholds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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