Background: The authors compared long-term health care use and cost in women undergoing immediate autologous breast reconstruction and implant-based breast reconstruction. Methods: This study was conducted using the OptumLabs Data Warehouse, which contains deidentified retrospective administrative claims data, including medical claims and eligibility information from a large U.S. health insurance plan. Women who underwent autologous or implant-based breast reconstruction between January of 2004 and December of 2014 were included. The authors compared 2-year use rates and predicted costs of care. Comparisons were tested using the t test. Results: Overall, 12,296 women with immediate breast reconstruction were identified; 4257 with autologous (35 percent) and 8039 with implant-based (65 percent) breast reconstruction. The proportion of autologous breast reconstruction decreased from 47.2 percent in 2004 to 32.7 percent in 2014. The mean predicted reconstruction cost of autologous reconstruction was higher than that of implant-based reconstruction in both unilateral and bilateral surgery. Similar results for mean predicted 2-year cost of care were seen in bilateral procedures. However, in unilateral procedures, the 2-year total costs were higher for implant-based than for autologous reconstruction. Two-year health care use rates were higher for implant-based reconstruction than for autologous reconstruction for both unilateral and bilateral procedures. Women undergoing unilateral implant-based reconstruction had higher rates of hospital admissions (30.3 versus 23.1 per 100; p < 0.01) and office visits (2445.1 versus 2283.6 per 100; p < 0.01) than those who underwent autologous reconstruction. Emergency room visit rates were similar between the two methods. Bilateral procedures yielded similar results. Conclusion: Although implant-based breast reconstruction is a less expensive index operation than autologous breast reconstruction, it was associated with higher health care use, resulting in similar total cost of care over 2 years.
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