Introduction: Early video-assisted thorascopic surgery (VATS) is the recommended intervention for retained hemothorax in trauma patients. Alternative options, such as lytic therapy, to avoid surgery remain controversial. The purpose of this decision analysis was to assess expected costs associated with treatment strategies. Methods: A decision tree analysis estimated the expected costs of three initial treatment strategies: 1) VATS, 2) intrapleural tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) lytic therapy, and 3) intrapleural non-TPA lytic therapy. Probability parameters were estimated from published literature. Costs were based on National Inpatient Sample data and published estimates. Our model compared overall expected costs of admission for each strategy. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to explore the impact of parameter uncertainty on the optimal strategy. Results: In the base case analysis, using TPA as the initial approach had the lowest total cost (U.S. $37,007) compared to VATS ($38,588). TPA remained the optimal initial approach regardless of the probability of complications after VATS. TPA was an optimal initial approach if TPA success rate was >83% regardless of the failure rate with VATS. VATS was the optimal initial strategy if its total cost of admission was <$33,900. Conclusion: Lower treatment costs with lytic therapy does not imply significantly lower total cost of trauma admission. However, an initial approach with TPA lytic therapy may be preferred for retained traumatic hemothorax to lower the total cost of admission given its high probability of avoiding the operating room with its resultant increased costs. Future studies should identify differences in quality of life after recovery from competing interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2930-2938
Number of pages9
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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