Background/purpose: Technological developments have revolutionized both diagnosis and treatment in neonatal surgery. However, it has been increasingly recognized that financial resources might become insufficient to provide all the medical care that is technically feasible or that patients and families might desire. The purpose of this study is to apply the theory of health economics to neonatal surgery and to explore the extent and the kind of economic evaluation done in neonatal surgery.
Methods: To explore the work done so far, the authors undertook a literature search aimed at costs and effects of surgical interventions in newborns with Ravitch' surgical index diagnoses of congenital anomalies. Common keywords in cost-effectiveness analysis were used to search Medline.
Results: Evidence about the cost effectiveness of neonatal surgery is largely lacking. This is probably because of difficulties in long-term tracking of the patients and to the problem that most generic quality-of-life measures are not applicable in children yet.
Conclusions: Further cost-effectiveness research in neonatal surgery is warranted to settle priority discussions in health care when neonatal surgery is part of such discussions. Methodology for generic quality-of-life measurement in children is badly needed.