Costs and Benefits of Laparoscopic Inguinal Hernia Repair- Is there an Economic Justification?
Dan Greenberg1, Jochanan G. Peiser2
1Department of Health Systems Management, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion, 2Operatory Room Directorate and Division of Surgery, Medical Center, Soroka University, Israel
Background: With the recent accelerated development of laparoscopic surgery, it has been applied in all fields of surgery. The main issue today is not the technical ability of performing laparoscopic procedures but rather their justification while considering the disease and cost-benefit aspects.
Objectives: The present study surveys the experience accumulated in recent years concerning the economical aspects of laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair. Issues like length of the surgical procedure, cost, typical complications and recuperation time are being addressed.
Methods: We reviewed controlled clinical trials that compare laparoscopic and open repair of inguinal hernia. Trials that included at least 100 patients and were published in peer-reviewed journals since 1996 were included. Various operative techniques were compared using clinical and economical parameters.
Results: Most studies examined the issues from an institutional or health care system viewpoint and not from a comprehensive societal perspective. Therefore, indirect costs were seldom included. Operative times were longer and direct costs were significantly higher in the laparoscopic approach as compared to conventional open surgery. However, recovery time and return to work were found to occur earlier in patients who underwent laparoscopic surgery.
Conclusions: A shorter recovery time and shorter off-work period after laparoscopic hernia repair could compensate for the increased hospital expenditures. However, this contribution has not yet been completely established and needs further validation by supplementary studies. Other aspects that will have to be evaluated include quality of life and patient satisfaction.