Management of craniosynostosis at an early age is important for mitigating the risk of abnormal cranial development, but treatment can result in significant expenses. Previous research has shown that endoscope-assisted craniectomy (EAC) is less costly than open cranial vault remodeling (CVR) for patients with sagittal synostosis. The aim of this study was to strengthen the existing body of healthcare cost research by elucidating the charges associated with open and endoscopic treatment for patients with nonsagittal synostosis.
The authors performed a retrospective analysis of data obtained in 41 patients who underwent open CVR and 38 who underwent EAC with postoperative helmet therapy for nonsagittal, single-suture craniosynostosis (metopic, coronal, and lambdoid) between 2008 and 2018. All patients were < 1 year of age at the time of surgery and had a minimum 1 year of follow-up. Inpatient charges, physician fees, helmet charges, and outpatient clinic visits in the 1st year were analyzed.
The mean ages of the children treated with EAC and open CVR were 3.5 months and 8.7 months, respectively. Patients undergoing EAC with postoperative helmet therapy required more outpatient clinic visits in the 1st year than patients undergoing CVR (4 vs 2; p < 0.001). Overall, 13% of patients in the EAC group required 1 helmet, 30% required 2 helmets, 40% required 3 helmets, and 13% required 4 or more helmets; the mean total helmeting charges were $10,072. The total charges of treatment, including inpatient charges, physician fees, outpatient clinic visit costs, and helmet charges, were significantly lower for the EAC group than they were for the open CVR group ($50,840 vs $95,588; p < 0.001).
Despite the additional charges for postoperative helmet therapy and the more frequent outpatient visits, EAC is significantly less expensive than open CVR for patients with metopic, coronal, and lambdoid craniosynostosis. In conjunction with the existing literature on clinical outcomes and perioperative resource utilization, these data support EAC as a cost-minimizing treatment for eligible patients with nonsagittal synostosis.