Laparoscopy may offer fast recovery and improved cosmesis, but its cost has been perceived as excessive.
To analyze the total hospital costs of laparoscopy vs open surgery.
Retrospective cost-effectiveness analysis evaluating all cases performed in a 36-month period (September 1995 to August 1998). Cases were evaluated for operative time, itemized cost of supplies, and length of hospitalization.
Operations performed by pediatric surgeons in a tertiary care children's hospital.
Consecutive children undergoing laparoscopic or open appendectomies, cholecystectomies, fundoplications, and splenectomies. Patients were not randomized to laparoscopy or open surgery.
Laparoscopic procedures performed with a core set of reusable equipment and a limited number of disposable instruments.
Main Outcome Measures
Cost surplus of laparoscopy was evaluated, and compared with savings associated with decreased hospital stay, to obtain cost-effectiveness of laparoscopy per procedure.
There were 26 laparoscopic and 359 open appendectomies; 33 laparoscopic and 3 open cholecystectomies; 16 laparoscopic and 18 open fundoplications; and 16 laparoscopic and 7 open splenectomies. Excess operating costs per procedure were $442.00 for appendectomy, $634.60 for fundoplication, $847.50 for cholecystectomy, and $1551.30 for splenectomy. Hospital stay was decreased for all laparoscopies, resulting in an overall savings per laparoscopic procedure of $2369.90 for appendectomy, $5390.90 for fundoplication, $1161.00 for cholecystectomy, and $858.90 for splenectomy.
Laparoscopy is cost-effective, particularly for fundoplication, appendectomy, and cholecystectomy. Detailing the costs of supplies, operating time, and length of stay allows interinstitutional comparison and critical cost-analysis of laparoscopy. With a more selective use of reusable instruments and further shortening of operative time, the global savings of laparoscopy may increase.