Is Postoperative Intensive Care Unit Care Necessary following Cranial Vault Remodeling for Sagittal Synostosis?

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Background:Of U.S. craniofacial and neurosurgeons, 94 percent routinely admit patients to the intensive care unit following cranial vault remodeling for correction of sagittal synostosis. This study aims to examine the outcomes and cost of direct ward admission following primary cranial vault remodeling for sagittal synostosis.Methods:An institutional review board–approved retrospective review was undertaken of the records of all patients who underwent primary cranial vault remodeling for isolated sagittal craniosynostosis from 2009 to 2015 at a single pediatric hospital. Patient demographics, perioperative course, and outcomes were recorded.Results:One hundred ten patients met inclusion criteria with absence of other major medical problems. Average age at operation was 6.7 months, with a mean follow-up of 19.8 months. Ninety-eight patients (89 percent) were admitted to a general ward for postoperative care, whereas the remaining 12 (11 percent) were admitted to the intensive care unit for preoperative or perioperative concerns. Among ward-admitted patients, there were four (3.6 percent) minor complications; however, there were no major adverse events, with none necessitating intensive care unit transfers from the ward and no mortalities. Average hospital stay was 3.7 days. The institution’s financial difference in cost of intensive care unit stay versus ward bed was $5520 on average per bed per day. Omitting just one intensive care unit postoperative day stay for this patient cohort would reduce projected health care costs by a total of $540,960 for the study period.Conclusion:Despite the common practice of postoperative admission to the intensive care unit following cranial vault remodeling for sagittal craniosynostosis, the authors suggest that postoperative care be considered on an individual basis, with only a small percentage requiring a higher level of care.CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:Therapeutic, III.

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