Does complexity relate to compensation? A comparison of relative value units in initial versus recurrent inguinal hernia repair

A. F. Doval, J. J. Nguyen-Lee, L. L. Beal, F. Zheng, A. Echo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: Work relative value units (wRVUs) can be used as a compensation model based on the effort required for providing a service and helps to determine adequate compensation for physicians. Thus, more complex surgical procedures that require greater technical skills and time should yield greater compensation. There are limited data comparing wRVUs and operative times within common general surgery procedures such as inguinal hernia repair. This study aims to compare mean operative times and wRVUs per minute between primary and recurrent inguinal hernia repairs, the latter being considered as a more difficult procedure to perform.

METHODS: A retrospective analysis of the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS-NSQIP) database was performed to identify all patients undergoing primary inguinal hernia repair and recurrent inguinal hernia repair by general surgeons over a 6-year period (2012-2017). Calculation and comparison of mean operative times, wRVUs, and wRVU per minute were performed.

RESULTS: A total of 134,391 patients were included in the analysis. 121,235 underwent primary inguinal repair and 13,156 patients underwent repair of recurrent inguinal hernia. Patients were distributed within open/reducible, open/incarcerated and laparoscopy groups. Mean operative time and RVUs were greater for recurrent inguinal procedures (p < 0.0001). Consistently, RVU per minute was also found to be higher for recurrent procedures within the different groups analyzed.

CONCLUSION: Appropriately, general surgeons are reimbursed at a higher rate per minute in recurrent cases, regardless of the technique used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-250
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Compensation
  • Inguinal hernia repair
  • Surgery
  • Work relative units
  • Surgeons/economics
  • Recurrence
  • Relative Value Scales
  • Humans
  • Groin/surgery
  • Operative Time
  • Quality Improvement
  • Hernia, Inguinal/economics
  • Laparoscopy/economics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Reoperation/economics
  • Herniorrhaphy/economics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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