Implications of Hospital Volume on Costs Following Esophagectomy in the United States

Gregory T. Kennedy, Benjamin D. Ukert, Jarrod D. Predina, Andrew D. Newton, John C. Kucharczuk, Daniel Polsky, Sunil Singhal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: With increasing focus on health care quality and cost containment, volume-based referral strategies have been proposed to improve value in high-cost procedures, such as esophagectomy. While the effect of hospital volume on outcomes has been demonstrated, our goal was to evaluate the economic consequences of volume-based referral practices for esophagectomy. Methods: The nationwide inpatient sample (NIS) was queried for the years 2004–2013 for all patients undergoing esophagectomy. Patients were stratified by hospital volume quartile and substratified by preoperative risk and age. Clustered multivariable hierarchical logistic regression analysis was used to assess adjusted costs and mortality. Results: In total, 9270 patients were clustered based on annual hospital volume quartiles of < 7, 7 to 22, 23 to 87, and > 87 esophagectomies. After stratification by patient variables, high-volume centers performed esophagectomies in high-risk patients at the same cost as low-volume centers without significant difference in resource utilization. Overall, mortality decreased across volume quartiles (lowest 8.9 versus highest 3.6%, p < 0.0001). The greatest volume-mortality differences were observed among patients aged between 70 and 80 years (lowest 12.2 versus highest 6.2%, p = 0.009). Patients with high preoperative risk also derived mortality benefits with increasing hospital volume (lowest 17.5 versus highest 11.8%, p < 0.0001). Conclusions: This study demonstrates that the mortality improvements for high-risk patients undergoing esophagectomy at high-volume centers do not come at increased costs. These results suggest that health systems should consider selectively referring high-risk patients to high-volume centers within their region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1845-1851
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Esophagectomy
  • Volume-cost relationship
  • Volume-outcome relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Gastroenterology


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