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Variability in pediatric appendectomy: The association between disposable supply cost and procedure duration

      Abstract

      Background

      Pediatric appendicitis accounts for a notable proportion of health care use and cost in the United States. To identify opportunities for cost savings during pediatric laparoscopic appendectomy, this study assessed whether surgeons' use of costlier disposable supplies correlated with procedure duration and patient outcomes.

      Methods

      This retrospective cross-sectional study assessed laparoscopic appendectomy for uncomplicated pediatric appendicitis at 2 tertiary-care academic hospitals. The cost of disposable surgical supplies, procedure duration, and patient outcomes were obtained from medical records. The correlation between average supply cost and procedure duration among surgeons was assessed using Pearson’s correlation coefficient. Associations between use of specific disposable supplies and supply cost or procedure duration were assessed using Student’s t tests.

      Results

      A total of 380 laparoscopic appendectomies were performed by 11 surgeons. Mean normalized supply cost varied between surgeons (range: 60.6%–151.1%) and was not correlated with procedure duration (R = 0.2951, P = .378). The use of energy-based sealing devices (76.7% increase, P < .001), staplers (38.4% increase, P < .001), endoscopic specimen pouches (45.3% increase, P < .001), and disposable ports (43.6% increase, P < .001) increased overall disposable supply cost. None of the disposable supplies in this analysis were associated with shorter procedures. Based on Medicaid reimbursement, the interquartile range of supply cost was 9.2% and 6.0% of hospital revenue at each site.

      Conclusion

      Surgeons varied in their use of disposable supplies for pediatric laparoscopic appendectomy, but the cost of supplies used did not influence outcomes. Incentivizing more judicious supply use may reduce costs related to pediatric appendicitis.
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