Hippokratia 2011; 15 (3): 252-257
T. Rombi, A. Triantafyllidis, A. Fotas, T. Konstantinidis, S. Touloupidis
Background and aim: This study attempts to estimate the socioeconomic differences between three major alternatives for the management of upper and lower ureteral lithiasis.
Material and methods: Two hundred and forty patients with upper and lower ureteral lithiasis, have been studied retrospectively, divided in six equal groups of forty. These patients have been treated either by extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (SWL), or with ureteroscopy with semirigid ureteroscope and the use of pneumatic lithoclast, or with ureteroscopy with flexible ureteroscope and the use of Holmium YAG Laser. For cost calculation, the reimbursement fee paid by insurance to the hospital was taken into account. For the estimation of the social burden, the length of hospital stay and the number of outpatient visits have been included as countable parameters.
Results: The percentage of effective stone removal for upper ureter was 81.0% for SWL, 62.5% for ureteroscopy with semirigid ureteroscope and the use of pneumatic lithoclast and, 82.5% for ureteroscopy with flexible ureteroscope and the use of Holmium YAG Laser. The same percentages for lower ureter were 82.5%, 92.5% and 97.5% respectively. The cost of stone removal for both the upper and lower ureter using extracorporeal lithotripsy was significantly higher compared to the other two procedures (median cost for upper ureter 828 € vs 474.50 € and 396 € respectively, and for lower ureter 826 € vs 396 € and 271 €, p<0.001). Regarding the social aspect, SWL is mainly an outpatient procedure, requiring a short hospital stay (for upper ureter 1.63 vs 2.48 and 2.45 respectively and for lower ureter 1.35 vs 2.43 and 2.13 days), but needing more and prevailing clinic visits (for upper ureter 1.43 vs 1.45 and 1 respectively and for lower ureter 1.45 vs 1.15 and 0.55 visitsgive numbers, compare), both in outpatient and in accident and emergency (A&E) department.
Conclusion: The increase in the expenses with regard to health management indicates the necessity of cost accounting the health programs including the medical procedures as a means to improve the relation between cost and benefit.