Background: The clinical impact of postoperative ileus (POI) after colectomy is difficult to quantify financially because of administrative coding limitations. Accurate data are important to allow pharmaco-economic analysis of methods aimed at reducing POI. The aim of this study was to assess the financial impact of POI for the 30-day episode of care for colectomy. Study Design: We reviewed all colectomy patients at our institution from July 2007 to June 2008. Primary POI was defined as more than three episodes of emesis with return to NPO diet status and/or reinsertion of nasogastric tube; secondary POI was associated with intraabdominal complications. Readmission for gastrointestinal failure was defined as delayed POI (no radiologic or surgical identification of small bowel obstruction). All other complications requiring readmission were grouped together for analysis. Data reviewed included primary admission and readmission costs, reason for readmission, intervention, index and total length of stay, narcotic use, time to ambulation, and time to enteral feeds. Results: One hundred eighty-six colectomies were eligible for analysis, with 45 cases (38 primary and 7 secondary) of POI during the index admission. The total cost was significantly higher for patients with POI ($16,612 versus $8,316; p < 0.05). However, readmission costs were not statistically different for delayed POI and other complications ($3,546 versus $6,705). Conclusions: POI occurred in 24% (84% primary) of colectomy patients and disproportionately affected cost at the index admission. Interestingly, delayed POI was similar in cost to readmission for other serious adverse surgical complications.
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