Economic implications of chronic sinusitis

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An approach to cost analysis useful in understanding the economic implications of surgical intervention on chronic sinusitis is break-even time analysis. The break-even time is the time until cost savings associated with improved health status after surgery equal the up-front costs of the operation itself. Data from 100 consecutive patients undergoing sinus operation were obtained by survey before surgery and at quarterly intervals for 1 year with statistically validated outcome measures (Medical Outcome Study Short Form 36-Item Health Survey, Chronic Sinusitis Survey). Direct and indirect costs were obtained or derived for this cohort. The cost of sinus medications, including over-the-counter remedies, nasal steroid sprays, and antibiotics, averaged $1220 per patient per year before surgery and $629 after surgery (p< 0.0001), which is a 48% reduction. Surgical costs averaged $6490 per patient. Economic modeling predicted a break-even time of approximately 7 years assuming a 3% surgical revision rate per year, a 3% decrease in sickness-related disability, and a 5% discount rate. The model was sensitive to changes in the total cost of operation, the surgical revision rate, and the anticipated disability benefit. We conclude that significant direct and indirect medical cost savings may be achieved after surgical intervention for chronic sinusitis and these savings eventually break even with the total cost of surgery itself. (Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 1998;118:344-9.)

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