JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Pediatric retropharyngeal abscesses: a national perspective.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the resource utilization and national variation in the management of pediatric retropharyngeal abscesses.

METHODS: The Kids' Inpatient Database (KID) 2003 was analyzed. International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision code 478.24 was the inclusion criteria.

RESULTS: One thousand three hundred and twenty-one admissions with retropharyngeal abscess were sampled from the KID in 2003; there were no deaths. The mean age of patients was 5.1 years (S.D. 4.4 years); 63% were male. Of all admissions, 563 (43%) patients underwent surgical drainage of their infection; surgical patients had longer length of stays and total charges than patients managed medically. The average state spending per admission varied from $5126 (Utah) to $27,776 (California). There was seasonal variation in admissions with the highest percentage of admissions occurring in March (10.7%) and lowest in August (3.8%). Indicators of increased resource utilization included age (older patients), increased length of stay, non-elective admission, discharge quarter, and number of other diagnoses on record. There is a statistically significant decrease in the length of stay and total charges in patients admitted in the Midwest compared to other regions of the country.

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates national demographics and normative data on a commonly treated pediatric disease process, retropharyngeal space infections. The average demographic of such a patient is a 5-year-old male from an urban location admitted in a non-elective fashion via the emergency department. The mean total charges were $16,377; 90% of admissions had total charges less than $28,511. Patients who underwent surgical procedures had mean total charges of $22,013. There exists significant national variation in resource utilization for this commonly treated disease process.

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