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The standard complete evaluation of patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) has included a staging exam under anesthesia (EUA) since the 1970s. The EUA for all sites of HNSCC has historically consisted of panendoscopy for the purpose of diagnostic biopsy, accurate staging of primary disease, and identification of second primary tumors. However, due to the accessibility of the oral cavity, the sole purpose of EUA for tumors of this site is to identify second primary tumors. Since the EUA became the gold standard for evaluation of HNSCC, there have been significant advancements in less invasive technologies such as CT, PET-CT, MRI, and fiberoptic examination. In this study, we sought to determine the value to patient care and cost-effectiveness of EUA in patients with oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (OCSCC). A retrospective chart review identified 77 patients who underwent EUA for OCSCC. The most common subsites were the oral tongue and floor of mouth (59.7% and 24.7% respectively). All underwent direct laryngoscopy, 94.8% underwent esophagoscopy, and 20.8% underwent flexible transnasal examination in clinic prior to EUA. For 90.9% of patients, the EUA did not change initial T-staging based on clinical examination and imaging. The remaining 9.1% of patients were upstaged after EUA, however this change did not impact the treatment plan. Second primary tumors were identified in 3.9% of patients, all were found in either the oral cavity or oropharynx, and were also identified with clinical examination or imaging. Analysis of patient charges determined an average cost of $8,022.93 per patient under the current paradigm involving EUA, however with a new algorithm eliminating mandatory EUA average cost decreases to $1,448.44. Formal EUA has historically been the gold standard for all HNSCC tumors. However, when performed for cases of oral cavity carcinoma, it is safe and cost effective to limit its use to select clinical scenarios. © 2022 S. Karger AG, Basel.


Osama A Hamdi, Michael I Dougherty, Jk J Rasamny, Mark A Greyson, John J Christophel, David C Shonka, Katherine L Fedder, Mark J Jameson, Jonathan C Garneau. The Clinical Utility and Cost of Routine Staging Exam under Anesthesia for Oral Cavity Squamous Cell Carcinoma. ORL; journal for oto-rhino-laryngology and its related specialties. 2023;85(2):72-79

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PMID: 36513031

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