Estimating the Cost of Neurosurgical Procedures in a Low-Income Setting: An Observational Economic Analysis

World Neurosurg. 2017 May:101:651-657. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2017.02.048. Epub 2017 Feb 16.


Background: There are no data on cost of neurosurgery in low-income and middle-income countries. The objective of this study was to estimate the cost of neurosurgical procedures in a low-resource setting to better inform resource allocation and health sector planning.

Methods: In this observational economic analysis, microcosting was used to estimate the direct and indirect costs of neurosurgical procedures at Mulago National Referral Hospital (Kampala, Uganda).

Results: During the study period, October 2014 to September 2015, 1440 charts were reviewed. Of these patients, 434 had surgery, whereas the other 1006 were treated nonsurgically. Thirteen types of procedures were performed at the hospital. The estimated mean cost of a neurosurgical procedure was $542.14 (standard deviation [SD], $253.62). The mean cost of different procedures ranged from $291 (SD, $101) for burr hole evacuations to $1,221 (SD, $473) for excision of brain tumors. For most surgeries, overhead costs represented the largest proportion of the total cost (29%-41%).

Conclusions: This is the first study using primary data to determine the cost of neurosurgery in a low-resource setting. Operating theater capacity is likely the binding constraint on operative volume, and thus, investing in operating theaters should achieve a higher level of efficiency. Findings from this study could be used by stakeholders and policy makers for resource allocation and to perform economic analyses to establish the value of neurosurgery in achieving global health goals.

Keywords: Cost analysis; Global surgery; Microcosting; Neurosurgery.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis* / trends
  • Female
  • Health Care Rationing / economics*
  • Health Care Rationing / trends
  • Hospital Costs* / trends
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / economics
  • Internship and Residency / trends
  • Male
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / economics*
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / education
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / trends
  • Poverty / economics*
  • Poverty / trends
  • Uganda
  • Young Adult