Can a simple dental extraction prevent a life-threatening neck infection? Cost–benefit analysis

Objective: Odontogenic infections can range from low-grade complications that can be treated with minor surgical procedures to severe, life-threatening infections requiring surgical airway interventions. In comparison to timely extractions, odontogenic infections have major implications on patient’s health, hospitalization time, surgeon time, related costs, and the health care system.

Materials and methods: A chart review of patients admitted with cervico-facial infections to our OMFS within 18-month period was conducted. A total of 43 patients were selected based on the odontogenic source of infection. The records were reviewed to retrieve length of hospitalization and intubation, surgical airway, re-operations, and facility and physician fees.

Results: Hospitalization ranged from 1 to 30 days, average of 6.3 days. Thirteen (30.2%) patients required prolonged intubation and mechanical ventilation, average of 4.31 days, and 3 (6.98%) required tracheostomy. Five (11.63%) patients were taken to the operating room multiple times. Average cost of hospitalization was USD 24,000 per patient, including hospital and physician fees. This ranged from USD 5200 to 124,700.

Conclusion: Odontogenic infections can lead to serious health complications, prolonged hospitalizations, and higher costs for both the patient and the health care system. Our study shows the average cost of hospitalization in the amount of USD 24,000 to be in colossal contrast to the cost of single tooth extraction in ambulatory setting which in our institution is estimated at USD 135. A simple dental extraction would have prevented the costly infectious complications in each case. Based on our cost–benefit analysis we advocate inclusion of odontectomies in state-sponsored healthcare plans.

Conflict of interest: None declared.

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Jan 27, 2018 | Posted by in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery | Comments Off on Can a simple dental extraction prevent a life-threatening neck infection? Cost–benefit analysis
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