Work relative value units do not account for complexity and operative time in hypospadias surgery

Da David Jiang, Kyle A. Gillis, Nicholas H. Chakiryan, Ann Martinez Acevedo, J. Christopher Austin, Casey A. Seideman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Relative value units (RVU) are the measure of value used in United States Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. The Relative Update Committee (RUC) determine physician work RVU (wRVU) based on operative time, technical skill and effort, mental effort and judgement, and stress. In theory, wRVU should account for the complexity and operative time involved in a procedure. Objective: The primary aim of this study is to assess if operative time and complexity of hypospadias surgery is adequately accounted for by the current wRVU assignments. Study design: The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program Participant User File (ACS-NSQIP PUF) database was utilized from 2012 to 2017. Single stage hypospadias current procedural terminology (CPT) codes (including acceptable secondary CPT codes) were extracted. Using total wRVU and total operative time, the primary variable of wRVU per hour was calculated (wRVU/hr). Multivariable linear regression analysis was used to assess the relative influence that wRVU and operative time had on the wRVU/hr variable. Results: 9810 cases were included in the final study population divided into four categories: simple distal (eg. MAGPI, V-Flap), single stage distal, single stage mid, single stage proximal. On analysis of variance, there was statistically significant different wRVU/hr for the four different types of hypospadias repairs with simple distal having the highest mean wRVU/hr of 19.5 and the lowest being proximal hypospadias repairs at 13.2. Simple distal, distal and midshaft hypospadias had statistically significantly higher wRVU/hr compared to proximal hypospadias (16.2, 95% CI: 15.8–16.5 vs. 13.2, 95% CI 10.9–15.5; p<0.001). Multivariable linear regression revealed that each additional hour of operative time was expected to decrease wRVU/hr by 10.5 (−10.5, 95% CI: −11.0 to −10.1, p < 0.001); total work wRVU had a statistically significant independent association with wRVU/hr (0.6, 95%CI: 0.5–0.7, p <0.001). Discussion: This the first objective assessment of the current wRVU assignments with regards to one stage hypospadias repairs. More complex and longer hypospadias procedures are not adequately compensated by wRVU. Most notably, simple distal procedures are reimbursed at a mean of 19.5 wRVU/hr compared to 13.2 wRVU/hr for one stage proximal repairs. Conclusion: This analysis of national-level data suggests that the current wRVU assignments significantly favor shorter and simpler procedures in hypospadias surgery.[Formula

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459.e1-459.e5
JournalJournal of Pediatric Urology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Hypospadias
  • RVU
  • Reimbursement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Urology


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