Cost comparison between surgical and conservative management for pediatric sinogenic subperiosteal abscesses

Sarah M. Sussman, Daniel D. Sharbel, Arsh Momin, John D. Prosser, William W. Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: There remains variation in management of orbital complications of acute bacterial rhinosinusitis (ABRS); specifically, those subperiosteal abscesses that present without immediate surgical indication. Recent systematic reviews on management and proposed treatment algorithms are helpful but do not consider the financial implications for healthcare systems and patients. Methods: A retrospective chart review of pediatric patients from a tertiary care children's hospital between 2002 and 2020 was performed, identifying patients via ICD coding corresponding to acute bacterial sinusitis and orbital involvement classified as Chandler 3 confirmed by contrasted computed tomography (CT). Two groups of patients were identified: intravenous (IV) antibiotics alone and IV antibiotics plus surgery. Billing records of total hospital charges and physician fees were recorded for financial analysis. Demographic, length of stay, and charges were analyzed. Results: 58 patients with ABRS and Chandler 3 orbital involvement were confirmed by CT imaging. Twenty-nine (50%) were treated with IV antibiotics alone, and twenty-nine (50%) underwent surgery in addition to IV antibiotics. There were no significant differences in patient demographics. The average total hospital charges for the medically managed group were $9262 ± 4831 compared to $30,830 ± 11,397 for the surgical group (p < 0.0001). In the medically managed group, the average hospital fees were $7305 ± 4048 and the average physician fees were $1543 ± 799. In the surgical group, the average hospital and physician fees were also significantly higher at $23,071 ± 7305 (p < 0.0001) and $7763 ± 3335 (p < 0.0001), respectively. Patients who were treated medically and had a longer than average LOS still had significantly fewer charges than those treated with antibiotics plus surgery and a shorter than average length of stay [$15,311 and $27,723, respectively (p = 0.02)]. Conclusion: Pediatric ABRS with orbital involvement requires prompt attention and management. Controversy persists over subperiosteal abscess management that present without overt surgical indications. Surgical intervention is expensive. Our subgroup analysis demonstrates the magnitude of this cost difference. Specifically, longer inpatient stays with IV antibiotics alone appear to be significantly cheaper than shorter ones that include surgery. Not all Chandler 3 patients are candidates for non-surgical management; however, clinicians are encouraged to keep these data in mind for those patients where further medical management is safe and may yield less expensive clinical resolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110542
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Acute bacterial rhinosinusitis
  • Orbital abscess
  • Orbital complications
  • Pediatric sinusitis
  • Periorbital abscess

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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