Objective.

To compare clinical outcomes and costs under 4 strategies for the management of esophageal coins in children.

Methods.

We developed a decision analysis model of 4 possible strategies for managing esophageal coins: 1) endoscopic removal under general anesthesia; 2) esophageal bougienage, 3) an outpatient 12- to 24-hour observation period to allow spontaneous coin passage; and 4) an inpatient observation period. Probabilities of success and complication rates for endoscopy and esophageal bougienage were obtained from published data. The probability of spontaneous coin passage was derived from chart review data at our institution. Costs were calculated from charges using a cost-to-charge ratio of .72. Hypothetical patients included in the model were those with a single esophageal coin presenting within 24 hours of ingestion, with no respiratory compromise on presentation and with no previous history of esophageal disease. Strategy-specific outcomes were overall complication rate and total cost in dollars per patient. Sensitivity analyses were performed to account for variations in the data.

Results.

The esophageal bougienage strategy resulted in no complications and a total cost per patient of $382, which represents a marginal advantage of $2915 per patient compared with the endoscopic removal strategy. On sensitivity analysis over the range of success and complication rates of bougienage, this strategy maintained a considerable decrease in both overall complications and total cost per patient compared with all other strategies. Both outpatient and inpatient observation strategies had overall complication rates of 4.2% compared with the complication rate of 5.8% for the endoscopy strategy. The total cost per patient under these strategies was $2439 for the outpatient and $3141 for the inpatient strategy, representing a marginal advantage of $858 and $156 per patient, respectively, compared with the endoscopy strategy. Both observation strategies maintained a lower overall complication rate compared with endoscopy in the sensitivity analysis. The outpatient observation strategy maintained a marginal advantage of $645 to $1257 per patient compared with endoscopy; however, the inpatient observation strategy total cost per patient surpassed that of endoscopy at a spontaneous passage rate <23%.

Conclusions.

Given the high success and low complication rates reported for esophageal bougienage, substantial savings in overall complications and costs would be expected with the use of this procedure. With spontaneous passage rates >23%, either an outpatient or an inpatient observation strategy would reduce costs and complications, compared with endoscopic removal of all esophageal coins.

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