Objective: To determine the comparative effectiveness of various approaches to diaphragmatic hernia (DH) repair, including open abdominal, laparoscopic abdominal, and thoracotomy. Design, Setting, and Patients: Using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample from 1999 to 2008, a comprehensive cohort of 38 764 patients (mean [SD] age, 60.8 [19.5] years) hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of DH who underwent repair was identified. Main Outcomes Measures: Morbidity and mortality of patients who underwent DH repair. Results: Open approaches were the most common, performed in 91% of patients (open abdominal, n=28 824 [74.4%]; thoracotomy, n=6573 [17.0%]). Hospital mortality was 1.1% or less for each of the approaches. However, patients who underwent a laparoscopic DH repair had a shorter length of stay (mean [SD], 4.5 [0.10] days) and fewer discharges to skilled nursing facilities than those who underwent open abdominal or thoracotomy repair approaches. Patients who underwent a DH repair through a thoracotomy approach had the longest length of stay (mean [SD], 7.8 [0.11] days) and a higher need for postoperative mechanical ventilation than those undergoing open or laparoscopic abdominal approaches (5.6% vs 3.2% vs 2.3%, respectively; P<.001). In addition, the thoracotomy approach was found to be an independent predictor for the development of a pulmonary embolism. Conclusions: This large national study demonstrates that most DH repairs are performed through open abdominal and thoracic approaches. Laparoscopic approaches are associated with decreased length of stay and more routine discharges than open abdominal and thoracotomy approaches.
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