BACKGROUND: Despite the availability of objective tests, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) diagnosis and management in infants remains controversial and highly variable. Our purpose was to characterize national variation in diagnostic testing and surgical utilization for infants with GERD.
METHODS: Using the Pediatric Health Information System, we identified infants <1 year old diagnosed with GERD between January 2011 and March 2015. Outcomes included progression to antireflux surgery (ARS) and use of relevant diagnostic testing. By using adjusted generalized linear mixed models, we compared facility-level ARS utilization.
RESULTS: Of 5 299 943 infants, 149 190 had GERD (2.9%), and 4518 (3.0%) of those patients underwent ARS. Although annual rates of GERD and ARS decreased, there was a wide range of GERD diagnoses (1.8%–6.2%) and utilization of ARS (0.2%–11.2%). Facilities varied in the use of laparoscopic versus open ARS (mean: 66%, range: 23%–97%). Variation in facility-level ARS rates persisted after adjustment. Overall 3.8% of patients underwent diagnostic testing, whereas 22.8% of ARS patients underwent diagnostic testing. The proportion of surgeries done laparoscopically was independently associated with ARS utilization (odds ratio: 1.57; 95% confidence interval: 1.21–2.02). Facility-level utilization of diagnostics (P > .1) and prevalence of GERD (P > .1) were not associated with utilization of ARS.
CONCLUSIONS: There is notable variation in the overall utilization of ARS and in the surgical and diagnostic approach in infants with GERD. Fewer than 4% of infants with GERD undergo diagnostic testing. This variation in care merits development of consensus guidelines and further research.
- Accepted May 23, 2017.
- Copyright © 2017 by the American Academy of Pediatrics