Background: Many hysterectomies are now performed by a laparoscopically assisted vaginal technique. This procedure is controversial, partly because of concern about cost. We studied hospital charges and costs for the procedure as compared with those for total abdominal hysterectomy and total vaginal hysterectomy in clinically similar groups of patients. Methods: From hospital-discharge data and patients' charts, we identified hysterectomies performed in 1993 and 1994 by 96 surgeons at a community teaching hospital to treat benign conditions. The patients were grouped according to the surgical procedures performed in conjunction with the hysterectomy. Data on hospital charges and cost-to-charge ratios for 64 hospital cost centers were used to assess charges and costs for specific resources, as well as for the hospitalization overall. Results: Of 1049 patients studied, 26 percent underwent laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy, 54 percent underwent abdominal hysterectomy, and 20 percent underwent vaginal hysterectomy. The average hospital stays were 2.6, 3.9, and 2.9 days, respectively, and the mean total charges (facility charges plus professional fees) for the hospitalizations were $6,116, $5,084, and $4,221 (P<0.001 for the comparison of the laparoscopic technique with both other techniques). The mean facility costs were $4,914, $3,954, and $3,116, respectively (P<0.001 for the same comparison), with similar findings in all subgroups. The higher charges and costs for laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy were due to higher supply costs, particularly when disposable supplies were used, and to longer operating-room time. Conclusions: Despite shorter hospital stays, in-hospital charges and costs for laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy are higher than for either alternative procedure, because of the disposable supplies that are typically used and the longer operating-room time.
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