Letters To The Editor

Vaginal approach is the most cost-effective route

Anupama Kotha, MD, MS; Joseph S. Sanfilippo, MD, MBA



Vaginal approach is the most cost-effective route

I applaud Drs. Kotha and Sanfilippo for addressing the “elephant in the room.” At the hospitals where I work, surgeons pay little or no attention to the cost of the disposables and operating room time used for their laparoscopic procedures. I believe the authors were remiss, though, to not at least mention the most minimally invasive approach to hysterectomy—the vaginal approach—which is by far the most cost-effective and safest route.

Thomas Powers, MD

Arcadia, California

Drs. Kotha and Sanfilippo respond

We appreciate Dr. Powers’ comments regarding our article on cost-conscious choices for minimally invasive gynecologic surgery. Indeed, he provides an important point. As the article’s overall focus, however, was on minimally invasive gynecologic surgery, we did not include a comparison with either abdominal or vaginal hysterectomy. Of interest, Warren and colleagues conducted a retrospective analysis of claims data in which expenditures for minimally invasive procedures (MIP) were compared with those of vaginal hysterectomy.1 For 15,404 patients who underwent surgery, costs were compared between MIP and abdominal as well as vaginal hysterectomy. Costs were as follows:

  • abdominal hysterectomy, $12,086
  • MIP, $10,868
  • vaginal hysterectomy, $9,544.

Vaginal hysterectomy cost was statistically significantly less (P<.05) compared with other methods. The authors concluded that the laparoscopic approach should be considered when the option of an abdominal versus laparoscopic procedure is entertained. For the gynecologic surgeon considering a laparoscopic approach, the information we provided in our article merits strong consideration.

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