Safety and cost effectiveness of early discharge following microscopic trans-sphenoidal resection of pituitary lesions

Surg Neurol Int. 2011;2:66. doi: 10.4103/2152-7806.81723. Epub 2011 May 28.


Background: Inpatient hospitalization following trans-sphenoidal resection of a pituitary neoplasm has traditionally involved a hospital stay of 2 days or more. It has been the policy of the senior pituitary neurosurgeon (GSA) since February 2008 to allow discharge home on postoperative day (POD) 1 if thirst mechanism is intact and the patient is tolerating oral hydration. The goal of this study was to evaluate the safety and cost-effectiveness of this practice.

Methods: We reviewed the charts of 30 patients, designated the early discharge group, who consecutively underwent microscopic trans-sphenoidal resection from February 2008 to December 2009. We then reviewed the charts of 30 patients, designated the standard discharge group, who consecutively underwent trans-sphenoidal resection from May 2007 to February 2008 before discharge home on POD1 was considered an appropriate option. Safety and cost-effectiveness of the two patient groups were retrospectively evaluated.

Results: Patients in the early discharge group went home, on average, on POD 1.3. Following exclusion of two outliers, the average date of discharge of patients in the standard discharge group was POD 2.2. The policy of early discharge saved an average of $1,949 per patient-approximately 4% the total cost of the procedure. Trends toward decreased costs did not reach statistical significance. While no patient suffered any measurable morbidity as a result of early discharge home, 1 in 3 patients in the early discharge group required unscheduled postoperative re-evaluation-a figure significantly higher than the standard discharge group.

Conclusions: At a dedicated pituitary center with the resources to closely monitor outpatient endocrinological and postsurgical issues, early discharge home following trans-sphenoidal surgery is a safe option that is associated with an increase in the number of unscheduled postoperative visits and a trend toward lower costs.

Keywords: Diabetes insipidus; SIADH; early discharge; pituitary surgery; trans-sphenoidal.