Last-minute cancellation of adult patients scheduled for cardiothoracic surgery in a large Dutch tertiary care centre

Bart Scheenstra*, Anouk M A Princée, Maike S V Imkamp, Bas Kietselaer, Yuri M Ganushchak, Arnoud W J Van't Hof, Jos G Maessen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Web of Science)



OBJECTIVES: Unanticipated cancellation of a surgical procedure is a common problem, causing distress to the patient and increases in healthcare costs. However, limited evidence exists on the effects of last-minute cancellations of cardiothoracic surgical procedures in particular. The goal of this study was to gain insight into the prevalence of and the reasons for last-minute cancellations and to examine whether cancellation is associated with adverse medical outcomes.

METHODS: Patients who were scheduled for elective cardiothoracic surgical procedures between January 2017 and June 2019 were evaluated. The reasons for the cancellations were assigned to the categories medically related or process related. We examined the differences in patient characteristics between those designated as no cancellation, medically related cancellations and process-related cancellations. Lastly, we examined the outcomes of patients who experienced a last-minute cancellation of a scheduled operation.

RESULTS: A total of 2111 patients were included; of these, 301 (14.3%) had last-minute cancellations. In 78 (26%) cases, the cancellations were attributable to medical reasons (e.g. infection, comorbidities); 215 (71%) of the cancellations were process related (e.g. another patient in more urgent need of surgery, lack of staff). Almost 99% of the operations with a process-related cancellation were rescheduled compared to only 71.8% of the medically related cancelled operations (P < 0.001). Patients with a medically related cancellation had significantly higher 1-year mortality than patients who had no cancellation (unadjusted hazard ratio 2.50; 95% confidence interval, 1.30-4.78; P = 0.006); after adjustment for the EuroSCORE II, this effect remained significant.

CONCLUSIONS: Last-minute cancellations were commonly seen in our cohort, and the reasons for cancellation were significantly related to adverse medical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-232
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Last-minute cancellation
  • Same day cancellation
  • Postponed surgery

Cite this