Cost/efficacy evaluation of the technologies applied to video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery lobectomy
Superior outcomes after video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) pulmonary lobectomy have been demonstrated, compared with thoracotomy, for patients affected by early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, in an era of rising health care costs and controlled resources, the overall medical cost of surgical procedures is measured by the hospitals’ marketing offices. Several factors such as surgical technique, conversion rate, length of stay, post-operative complications occurrence and mainly the introduction of new surgical technologies (disposables and devices) could influence the cost-effectiveness of VATS procedures. However, increased operating room costs are counteracted by shorter hospital stay and reduced ward bed stays providing further resources for other patients. Thus, choosing a surgical approach and assessing whether a specific technique is cost-effective is mandatory for a modern thoracic surgeon to justify its expenses. This review tries to reach a conclusion by comparing all recent studies reporting a cost analysis for VATS lobectomy, especially for new technologies used for VATS lobectomy. Nevertheless, no sufficient evidences are published to assess VATS new technologies sustainability and further cost analyses are necessary before VATS lobectomy expense is deemed justified.