Randomized clinical trial and follow-up study of cost-effectiveness of laparoscopic versus conventional Nissen fundoplication

Draaisma WA, Buskens E, Bais JE, Simmermacher RK, Rijnhart-de Jong HG, Broeders IA, Gooszen HG.

Laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication (LNF) has essentially replaced its conventional open counterpart (CNF). An economic evaluation of LNF compared with CNF based on prospective data with adequate follow-up is lacking.

Data from two consecutive studies (a randomized clinical trial (RCT) of 57 patients undergoing LNF and 46 undergoing CNF that was terminated prematurely, and a follow-up study of 121 consecutive patients with LNF) were combined to determine incremental cost-effectiveness 1 year after surgery.

Mean operating time, reoperation rate and hospital costs of LNF were lower in the second series. The mean overall hospital cost per patient was euro 9126 for LNF and euro 6989 for CNF at 1 year in the initial RCT, and euro 7782 in the second LNF series. The success rate of both LNF and CNF at 1 year was 91 per cent in the RCT, and LNF was successful in 90.1 per cent in the second series. A cost reduction of euro 998 for LNF would cancel out the cost advantage of CNF. Similarly, if the reoperation rate after LNF decreased from 0.05 to below 0.008 and/or if the mean duration of sick leave after LNF was reduced from 67.2 to less than 61.1 days, the procedure would become less expensive than CNF. Complications, reoperation rate and quality of life after both operations were similar.

Including reinterventions, the outcome at 1 year after LNF and CNF was similar. In a well organized setting with appropriate expertise, the cost advantage of CNF may be neutralized.