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J Pediatr Surg. 2011 Apr;46(4):617-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2010.09.047.

Costs of congenital diaphragmatic hernia repair in the United States-extracorporeal membrane oxygenation foots the bill.

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  • 1Division of Research and Optimal Patient Care, American College of Surgeons, Chicago, IL 60611, USA. m-raval@md.northwestern.edu



Congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) is the costliest noncardiac congenital defect. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a treatment strategy offered to those babies with CDH who would not otherwise survive on conventional therapy. The primary objective of our study was to identify the leading source of expenditures in CDH care.


All patients surviving CDH repair were identified in the Kids' Inpatient Database (KID) from 1997 to 2006, with costs converted to 2006 US dollars. Patients were categorized into groups based on severity of disease for comparison including CDH repair only, prolonged ventilator dependence, and ECMO use. Factors associated with greater expenditures in CDH management were analyzed using a regression model.


Eight hundred thirty-nine patients from 213 hospitals were studied. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation use decreased from 18.2% in 1997 to 11.4% in 2006 (P = .002). Congenital diaphragmatic hernia survivors managed with ECMO cost more than 2.4 times as much as CDH survivors requiring only prolonged ventilation postrepair and 3.5 times as much as those with CDH repair only (both P < .001). Age, multiplicity of diagnoses, patient transfer, inhaled nitric oxide use, prolonged ventilation, and ECMO use were all associated with higher costs. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation use was the single most important factor associated with higher costs, increasing expenditures 2.4-fold (95% confidence interval, 2.1-2.8). Though the CDH repair with ECMO group constituted 12.2% of patients, this group has the highest median costs ($156,499.90/patient) and constitutes 28.5% of national costs based on CDH survivors in the KID. Annual national cost for CDH survivors is $158 million based on the KID, and projected burden for all CDH patients exceeds $250 million/year.


Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation use is the largest contributing factor to the economic burden in CDH. With limited health care resources, judicious resource utilization in CDH care merits further study.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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