Cost-effectiveness of robotic-assisted surgery is still debatable. Robotic-assisted inguinal hernia repair has no clear clinical benefit over laparoscopic repair. We performed a comprehensive cost-analysis comparison between the two approaches for evaluation of their cost-effectiveness in a large healthcare system in the Western United States.
Health records in 32 hospitals were queried for procedural costs of inguinal hernia repairs between January 2015 and March 2017. Elective robotic-assisted or laparoscopic unilateral inguinal hernia repairs were included. Cost calculations were done using a utilization-based costing model. Total cost included: fixed cost, which comprises medical device and personnel costs, and variable cost, which comprises disposables and reusable instruments costs. Other outcome measures were length of stay (LOS), conversion to open, and operative times. Statistics were done using t test for continuous variables and χ2 test for categorical variables. A p-value < 0.05 was considered significant.
A total of 2405 cases, 734 robotic-assisted (633 Primary: 101 recurrent) and 1671 laparoscopic (1471 Primary: 200 recurrent), were included. The average total cost was significantly higher (p < 0.001) in the robotic-assisted group ($5517) compared to the laparoscopic group ($3269). However, the average laparoscopic variable cost ($1105) was significantly higher (p < 0.001) than the robotic-assisted cost ($933). Whereas there was no significant difference between the two groups for LOS and conversion to open, average operative times were significantly higher in the robotic-assisted group (p < 0.001). Subgroup analysis for primary and recurrent inguinal hernias matched the overall results.
Robotic-assisted inguinal hernia repair has a significantly higher cost and significantly longer operative times, compared to the laparoscopic approach. The study has shown that only fixed cost contributes to the cost difference between the two approaches. Medical device cost plus the longer operative times are the main factors driving the cost difference. Laparoscopic unilateral inguinal hernia repair is more cost-effective compared to a robotic-assisted approach.
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Lee Swanstrom is on the Scientific Advisory board of Olympus and Boston Scientific. Chet Hammill is a Medtronic consultant and Intuitive Surgical proctor. Walaa Abdelmoaty, Christy Dunst, and Chris Neighorn have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.
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Abdelmoaty, W.F., Dunst, C.M., Neighorn, C. et al. Robotic-assisted versus laparoscopic unilateral inguinal hernia repair: a comprehensive cost analysis. Surg Endosc 33, 3436–3443 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00464-018-06606-9
- Inguinal hernia
- Cost analysis