Cost-minimization analysis in a blind randomized trial on small-incision versus laparoscopic cholecystectomy from a societal perspective: sick leave outweighs efforts in hospital savings
SourceTrials, 10, (2009), article 80
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectNCEBP 2: Evaluation of complex medical interventions
BACKGROUND: After its introduction, laparoscopic cholecystectomy rapidly expanded around the world and was accepted the procedure of choice by consensus. However, analysis of evidence shows no difference regarding primary outcome measures between laparoscopic and small-incision cholecystectomy. In absence of clear clinical benefit it may be interesting to focus on the resource use associated with the available techniques, a secondary outcome measure. This study focuses on a difference in costs between laparoscopic and small-incision cholecystectomy from a societal perspective with emphasis on internal validity and generalisability METHODS: A blinded randomized single-centre trial was conducted in a general teaching hospital in The Netherlands. Patients with reasonable to good health diagnosed with symptomatic cholecystolithiasis scheduled for cholecystectomy were included. Patients were randomized between laparoscopic and small-incision cholecystectomy. Total costs were analyzed from a societal perspective. RESULTS: Operative costs were higher in the laparoscopic group using reusable laparoscopic instruments (difference 203 euro; 95% confidence interval 147 to 259 euro). There were no significant differences in the other direct cost categories (outpatient clinic and admittance related costs), indirect costs, and total costs. More than 60% of costs in employed patients were caused by sick leave. CONCLUSION: Based on differences in costs, small-incision cholecystectomy seems to be the preferred operative technique over the laparoscopic technique both from a hospital and societal cost perspective. Sick leave associated with convalescence after cholecystectomy in employed patients results in considerable costs to society. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN Register, number ISRCTN67485658.
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