Laparoscopic vs. open appendectomy: systematic review of medical efficacy and health economic analysis

  • Gorenoi V
  • Dintsios C
  • Schonermark M
 et al. 
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SCIENTIFIC BACKGROUND: Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix of the blind intestine. Appendicitis remains the most frequent cause for an acute abdomen. Both interventions, the open surgical (through opening of the abdominal cavity) as well as the laparoscopic approach (via insertion of an optic system and instruments into the abdominal cavity through three small incisions), are used for the excision of the inflamed appendix (appendectomy). RESEARCH QUESTIONS: The performed evaluation addresses questions on the medical effectiveness of the use of laparoscopic appendectomy in comparison with the classical open appendix excision as well as on its cost-effectiveness based on the German health system. METHODS: A literature search was conducted in October 2005 in the most important medical electronic databases. The medical analysis was performed on the basis of the most up to date systematic review (basic review) of randomized controlled studies (RCT), newly published RCT and on our own quantitative information synthesis of all studies as well as of selected methodologically high-value RCT. In the health economic analysis, relevant publications were evaluated and cost differences of both interventions were calculated. RESULTS: One systematic review and 56 primary studies were included in the medical evaluation, 24 of these studies were included in the conducted subanalysis on the basis of methodologically high-value studies. In total, a relation of three avoided wound infections per one additional intraabdominal abscess has to be expected by the use of laparoscopic appendectomy in com-parison with the open operation. Diagnostic laparoscopy reduces the rate of unclear diagnoses within the scope of planned appendectomy in fertile women. By routine, leaving the macroscopically bland appendix in situ, the rate of negative appendectomy is reduced significantly and profound. The results speak for a small advantage of the laparoscopic appendec-tomy with regard to pain intensity, the time until reintroduction of liquid and solid diet, time until first stool as well as for a slightly better cosmetic result and slightly better quality of life. In the contemporary practice in Germany, a longer operation time, a reduced length of hospital stay and a similar time to return to work have to be expected by the use of laparoscopic appendectomy in comparison with open appendectomy. In the current health care situation in Germany, the use of laparoscopic appendectomy is associated with additional operation costs of approximately 150 to 200 Euro compared with the open appendectomy. By approximately 200 Euro costs savings due to the shorter length of hospital stay, the total (direct and indirect) costs of in-patient care of both interventions seem to be similar. Due to similar indirect costs, the total costs of both interventions lie also in the same range and the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of both technologies are driven to zero. DISCUSSION: The use of the results of the performed medical analysis in the cost calculations supports the conclusions of the health-economic evaluation on the same evidence level as in the medical analysis. CONCLUSIONS: Laparoscopic appendectomy shows both small advantages (diagnostics, wound infections, pain intensity, cosmetic result and quality of life) and disadvantages (intraabdominal abscesses) when compared with open appendectomy. From a health-economic view, laparoscopic and open appendectomies are generally similar with respect to the direct in-patient and indirect costs. Therefore, the decision between the two alternatives should be made by the physicians individually

Author-supplied keywords

  • Abdomen
  • Appendectomy
  • Appendicitis
  • Appendix
  • Databases
  • Diet
  • Germany
  • Health
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Laparoscopy
  • Pain
  • Quality of Life
  • Research
  • Time
  • analysis
  • methods

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  • V Gorenoi

  • C M Dintsios

  • M P Schonermark

  • A Hagen

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