As one of the most common congenital craniofacial deformities, cleft lip and palate repair is a complex and much published topic. Proper treatment can require a multitude of appointments and operations and can place a significant burden on both the patients' families and the health care system itself. One proposed solution has been to combine multiple cleft procedures. However, these more complex operations have drawn concerns from institutions and providers regarding increased cost. This study provides a cost utility analysis between single-stage and staged unilateral cleft lip and palate repairs.
A retrospective review was conducted via current procedural terminology code identification of all cleft-related operations performed between 2013 and 2018. Patients were screened according to diagnosis, and only analysis on unilateral cleft lip and palate patients was performed. Patients were split into 2 cohorts: those that underwent a single-stage complete cleft repair, which includes palate, lip, alveolus, and nasal repair—termed “PLAN” at our institution, and those that underwent more traditional staged lip and palate repairs. Demographic and billing data were collected for any procedure performed between patient ages 0 and 24 months. χ2, t-tests, and parametric regression analyses were performed to compare the cohorts.
Between 2013 and 2018, 968 (n = 968) cleft-related operations were conducted at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital. Seven hundred ninety-six (n = 796) noncleft lip/palate repairs and 38 (n = 38) bilateral cleft lip repairs were excluded. Of the remaining 135 (n = 135) patients with unilateral cleft lip and palate, detailed cost data were available for 86 single-stage and 28 staged repairs. The average combined total cost for single-stage repairs was US $80,405 compared with US $109,473 for staged repairs (P < 0.001). The average total intraoperative cost for single-stage repairs was US $60,683 versus US $79,739 for staged repairs (P < 0.001), and the average total postoperative cost for single-stage repairs versus staged repairs was US $19,776 and US $29,703, respectively (P < 0.001).
This analysis suggests that single-stage PLAN repair, provides an effective, cost-efficient solution to unilateral cleft lip and palate care, reducing burden on patients' families and the health care system at large.