Support surfaces for intraoperative prevention of pressure ulcers in patients undergoing surgery: a cost-effectiveness analysis

Surgery. 2011 Jul;150(1):122-32. doi: 10.1016/j.surg.2011.03.002.


Background: Patients who undergo prolonged surgical procedures are at risk of developing pressure ulcers. Recent systematic reviews suggest that pressure redistribution overlays on operating tables significantly decrease the associated risk. Little is known about the cost effectiveness of using these overlays in a prevention program for surgical patients.

Methods: Using a Markov cohort model, we evaluated the cost effectiveness of an intraoperative prevention strategy with operating table overlays made of dry, viscoelastic polymer from the perspective of a health care payer over a 1-year period. We simulated patients undergoing scheduled surgical procedures lasting ≥90 min in the supine or lithotomy position.

Results: Compared with the current practice of using standard mattresses on operating tables, the intraoperative prevention strategy decreased the estimated intraoperative incidence of pressure ulcers by 0.51%, corresponding to a number-needed-to-treat of 196 patients. The average cost of using the operating table overlay was $1.66 per patient. Compared with current practice, this intraoperative prevention strategy would increase slightly the quality-adjusted life days of patients and by decreasing the incidence of pressure ulcers, this strategy would decrease both hospital and home care costs for treating fewer pressure ulcers originated intraoperatively. The cost savings was $46 per patient, which ranged from $13 to $116 by different surgical populations. Intraoperative prevention was 99% likely to be more cost effective than the current practice.

Conclusion: In patients who undergo scheduled surgical procedures lasting ≥90 min, this intraoperative prevention strategy could improve patients' health and save hospital costs. The clinical and economic evidence support the implementation of this prevention strategy in settings where it has yet to become current practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Care / economics
  • Intraoperative Care / instrumentation*
  • Models, Economic
  • Operating Tables* / adverse effects
  • Operating Tables* / economics
  • Polymers
  • Postoperative Complications / economics
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Pressure Ulcer / economics
  • Pressure Ulcer / prevention & control*
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Polymers