Research: Temporal Trends of Neonatal Surgical Conditions in Texas and Accessibility to Pediatric Surgical Care

J Surg Res

. 2024 Jan 11:296:29-36.

 doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2023.12.009. Online ahead of print.

Temporal Trends of Neonatal Surgical Conditions in Texas and Accessibility to Pediatric Surgical Care

Nikhil R Shah 1Anthony Price 2Keyan Mobli 3Sean O’Leary 2Ravi S Radhakrishnan 3

Affiliations expand


Introduction: Texas consistently accounts for approximately 10% of annual national births, the second highest of all US states. This temporal study aimed to evaluate incidences of neonatal surgical conditions across Texas and to delineate regional pediatric surgeon accessibility.

Methods: The Texas Birth Defects Registry was queried from 1999 to 2018, based on 11 well-established regions. Nine disorders (30,476 patients) were identified as being within the operative scope of pediatric surgeons: biliary atresia (BA), pyloric stenosis (PS), Hirschsprung’s disease, stenosis/atresia of large intestine/rectum/anus, stenosis/atresia of small intestine, tracheoesophageal fistula/esophageal atresia, gastroschisis, omphalocele, and congenital diaphragmatic hernia. Annual and regional incidences were compared (/10,000 births). Statewide pediatric surgeons were identified through the American Pediatric Surgical Association directory. Regional incidences of neonatal disorder per surgeon were evaluated from 2010 to 2018 as a surrogate for provider disparity.

Results: PS demonstrated the highest incidence (14.405/10,000), while BA had the lowest (0.707/10,000). Overall, incidences of PS and BA decreased significantly, while incidences of Hirschsprung’s disease and small intestine increased. Other diagnoses remained stable. Regions 2 (48.24/10,000) and 11 (47.79/10,000) had the highest incidence of neonatal conditions; Region 6 had the lowest (34.68/10,000). Three rural regions (#2, 4, 9) lacked pediatric surgeons from 2010 to 2018. Of regions with at least one surgeon, historically underserved regions (#10, 11) along the Texas-Mexico border consistently had the highest defect per surgeon rates.

Conclusions: There are temporal and regional differences in incidences of neonatal conditions treated by pediatric surgeons across Texas. Improving access to neonatal care is a complex issue that necessitates collaborative efforts between state legislatures, health systems, and providers.

Keywords: Congenital anomalies; Geographic disparity; Healthcare accessibility; Neonatal surgery; Rural surgery.

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