Objective: To determine whether primary operative management (decortication within the first 2 days of hospitalization) decreases hospital length of stay (LOS) and total charges in children with empyema.
Design: Retrospective cohort study.
Setting: Nationally representative Kids' Inpatient Database for 2003.
Participants: Children and adolescents aged 0 to 18 years (hereinafter referred to as children) with empyema.
Main outcome measures: Hospital LOS and total charges.
Results: A total of 1173 children with empyema were identified. Compared with children treated with primary nonoperative management, children treated with primary operative management had a shorter hospital LOS by 4.3 (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.3-6.4) days and lower total hospital charges by $21,179.80 (95% CI, -$34,111.12 to -$8248.48) and were less likely to be transferred to another short-term hospital (0% vs 13.3%). In addition, children with primary operative management were less likely to have therapeutic failure (odds ratio, 0.08 [95% CI, 0.04-0.15]). There was no difference in complications between the 2 groups (odds ratio, 1.01 [95% CI, 0.59-1.74]).
Conclusion: Primary operative management is associated with decreased LOS, hospital charges, and likelihood of transfer to another short-term hospital, compared with nonoperative management.