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Article of the Week: Evaluating health resource use and secondary care costs for RP and partial nephrectomy

Every Week the Editor-in-Chief selects an Article of the Week from the current issue of BJUI. The abstract is reproduced below and you can click on the button to read the full article, which is freely available to all readers for at least 30 days from the time of this post.

In addition to the article itself, there is an accompanying editorial written by a prominent member of the urological community. This blog is intended to provoke comment and discussion and we invite you to use the comment tools at the bottom of each post to join the conversation.

Finally, the third post under the Article of the Week heading on the homepage will consist of additional material or media. This week we feature a video from Mr. Jim Adshead, discussing his paper.

If you only have time to read one article this week, it should be this one.

Health resource use after robot-assisted surgery vs open and conventional laparoscopic techniques in oncology: analysis of English secondary care data for radical prostatectomy and partial nephrectomy

David Hughes*, Charlotte Camp*, Jamie OHara*† and Jim Adshead


*HCD Economics, Daresbury, Faculty of Health and Social Care, University of Chester, Chester, and Hertfordshire and South Bedfordshire Urological Cancer Centre, Department of Urology, Lister Hospital, Stevenage, UK



To evaluate postoperative health resource utilisation and secondary care costs for radical prostatectomy and partial nephrectomy in National Health Service (NHS) hospitals in England, via a comparison of robot-assisted, conventional laparoscopic and open surgical approaches.

Patients and Methods

We retrospectively analysed the secondary care records of 23 735 patients who underwent robot-assisted (RARP, n = 8 016), laparoscopic (LRP, n = 6 776) or open radical prostatectomy (ORP, n = 8 943). We further analysed 2 173 patients who underwent robot-assisted (RAPN,n = 365), laparoscopic (LPN, n = 792) or open partial nephrectomy (OPN, n = 1 016). Postoperative inpatient admissions, hospital bed-days, excess bed-days and outpatient appointments at 360 and 1 080 days after surgery were reviewed.



Patients in the RARP group required significantly fewer inpatient admissions, hospital bed-days and excess bed-days at 360 and 1 080 days than patients undergoing ORP. Patients undergoing ORP had a significantly higher number of outpatient appointments at 1 080 days. The corresponding total costs were significantly lower for patients in the RARP group at 360 days (£1679 vs £2031 for ORP; P < 0.001) and at 1 080 days (£3461 vs £4208 for ORP; P < 0.001). In partial nephrectomy, Patients in the RAPN group required significantly fewer inpatient admissions and hospital bed-days at 360 days compared with those in the OPN group; no significant differences were observed in outcomes at 1 080 days. The corresponding total costs were lower for patients in the RAPN group at 360 days (£779 vs £1242 for OPN,P = 0.843) and at 1 080 days (£2122 vs £2889 for ORP; P = 0.570). For both procedure types, resource utilisation and costs for laparoscopic surgeries lay at the approximate midpoint of those for robot-assisted and open surgeries.


Our analysis provides compelling evidence to suggest that RARP leads to reduced long-term health resource utilisation and downstream cost savings compared with traditional open and laparoscopic approaches. Furthermore, despite the limitations that arise from the inclusion of a small sample, these results also suggest that robot-assisted surgery may represent a cost-saving alternative to existing surgical options in partial nephrectomy. Further exploration of clinical cost drivers, as well as an extension of the analysis into subsequent years, could lend support to the wider commissioning of robot-assisted surgery within the NHS.

2 replies
  1. John Davis
    John Davis says:

    Very nice analysis that adds to the literature on long-term cost analyses needed in MIS. Does the NHS dataset allow an analysis to focus on what particular complications or other divers of cost are making the difference? Second–does the savings noted make up for the upfront cost?

  2. Mr Jim Adshead
    Mr Jim Adshead says:

    Thanks for your comment, John
    HES data is quite granular and the majority of the drivers were urological re-interventions and infection\wound related issues.
    Like SEER it is based on coding which may not answer specific causes as readmissions are often grouped into general categories.
    We have now looked at RAPN specifically vs open and lap partial and the paper is with reviewers at BJUI at the moment. We have managed to look at specific drivers in more detail in this paper and RAPN has less downstream costs
    Regarding upfront costs, in the NHS it has been acknowledged that if an established RALP program is performing 150 prostatectomies per year then it is cost effective so if RAPN is performed on cost neutral systems then all other downstream benefits are savings.

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