Article

A population-based study of outcomes from thyroidectomy in aging Americans: at what cost?

Department of Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.
Journal of the American College of Surgeons (Impact Factor: 4.45). 06/2008; 206(3):1097-105. DOI: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2007.11.023
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We wanted to evaluate clinical and economic outcomes after thyroidectomy in patients 65 years of age and older, with special analyses of those aged 80 years and older, in the US.
This was a population-based study using the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample, 2003-2004, a national administrative database of all patients undergoing thyroidectomy and their surgeon providers. Independent variables included patient demographic and clinical characteristics and surgeon descriptors, including case volume. Clinical and economic outcomes included mean total costs and length of stay (LOS), in-hospital mortality, discharge status, and complications.
There were 22,848 patients who underwent thyroidectomies, including 4,092 (18%) aged 65 to 79 years and 744 (3%) 80 years of age or older. On a population level, patient age is an independent predictor of clinical and economic outcomes. Average LOS for patients 80 years and older is 60% longer than for similar patients 65 to 79 years of age (2.9 versus 2.2 days; p < 0.001), complication rates are 34% higher (5.6% versus 2.1%; p < 0.001), and total costs are 28% greater ($7,084 versus $5,917; p < 0.001). High-volume surgeons have shorter LOS and fewer complications but perform fewer thyroidectomies for aging Americans; although they do nearly 29% of these procedures in patients younger than 65 years, they do just 15% of thyroidectomies in patients 80 years and older and 23% in patients 65 to 79 years.
On a population level, clinical and economic outcomes for patients 65 years and older undergoing thyroidectomies are considerably worse than for similar, younger patients. The majority of thyroidectomies in aging Americans is performed by low-volume surgeons. More data are needed about longterm outcomes, but increased referrals to high-volume surgeons for aging Americans are necessary.

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