Background: Laparoscopic antireflux surgery has replaced conventional operation despite the fact that currently no randomized trials have been published regarding its cost effectiveness. The objective of the present study was to compare costs and some short-term outcomes of laparoscopic and open Nissen fundoplication.
Study design: Forty-two patients with documented gastroesophageal reflux disease were randomized between October 1995 and October 1996 to either laparoscopic (LNF) or open (ONF) Nissen fundoplication. Some short-term outcomes, Gastrointestinal Quality of Life Index (GIQLI) hospital costs, and costs to society were assessed. Followup was 3 months.
Results: Medians of operation times in the LNF and ONF groups were 98 min and 74 min, respectively. Hospital stay was 2.5 days shorter after laparoscopic operation (LNF 3 days versus ONF 5.5 days). Both operations were equally safe and effective, but the LNF group experienced significantly less pain and fatigue during the first 3 postoperative weeks. Improvement in the GIQLI and overall patient satisfaction were comparable between the methods. Convalescence was faster in the LNF group: return to normal life being 14 versus 31 days and return to work being 21 versus 44 days in the LNF and ONF groups, respectively. Hospital costs were similar, $2,981 and $3,140 in the LNF and ONF groups, respectively, but total costs were lower ($7,506 versus $13,118) in the LNF group as a result of an earlier return to work.
Conclusions: LNF is superior in cost effectiveness, assuming that the longterm results between the methods are comparable.