Background: Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) is a cost consuming therapy for only a relatively small number of patients. The aim of the present study was to explore specific cost drivers in a German transplant centre.
Material/methods: The analysis was done by combination of two separate databases with prospective clinical and case-related cost data. Several complications were compared for their impact on length of stay and on costs by uni- and multivariate analysis.
Results: The median cost of OLT was 30,120 Euro (range 18,330-397,450; mean 52,570), the median reimbursement was 33,227 Euro (range 30,879-344,142; mean 59,628) with a significant in-between correlation of r=0.951 (P<0.0001). Post-transplant complications significantly raised cost, with an increase of 62% by vascular complications, 175% by renal failure, 207% by biliary leakage, 227% by graft failure and 234% by sepsis. Multivariate analysis revealed reoperation, hypotension and graft failure as independent cost factors. Graft failure contributed for mean additional costs of 105,911 Euro (95%CI 75,695 to 136,126). In particular, the cost of ICU therapy increased from 16,884 Euro up to 92,239 Euro (P<0.0001).
Conclusions: Cost and reimbursement of OLT are relatively moderate in Germany. Graft failure was identified as the major cost-determining factor. The cost impact of post-transplant complications is mainly caused by the length of stay.