Unnecessary Cost of Post-Mohs Permanent Pathology

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

By providing tumor-free margins, Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS) results in high cure rates in the treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancers (NMSCs). However, when closure of the post-MMS defect is coordinated with reconstructive surgery, redundant tissue is sometimes submitted for permanent section evaluation.

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of our study was to investigate the frequency and effect of this practice.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Patients (12 years and older) with NMSCs cleared by MMS with coordinated closures from 2014 to 2016 were identified. Cost analysis was performed using the 2016 Current Procedural Terminology codes and averaged nation-wide Medicare reimbursement rates.

RESULTS

During the study period, 408 cases were coordinated with reconstructive surgeons post-MMS. Of these, 125 had specimens were submitted for permanent section with none showing residual malignancy. There were no significant differences between the cases sent for permanent section and the remaining coordinated MMS cases, with respect to patient age, to basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma histology, or to defect size (p > .05). The marginal cost of sending specimens for permanent section was $121 per case.

CONCLUSION

Sending post-MMS redundant tissue for permanent sections may be of limited utility and should not be performed routinely. Additional work is warranted to determine when this practice should be used in conjunction with MMS.

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