What Are the Real Procedural Costs of Bariatric Surgery? A Systematic Literature Review of Published Cost Analyses

Brett Doble*, Sarah Wordsworth, Richard Welbourn, James Byrne, Jane Blazeby, Barnaby C. Reeves, Janice L. Thompson, Graziella Mazza, Chris A. Rogers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
455 Downloads (Pure)


This review aims to evaluate the current literature on the procedural costs of bariatric surgery for the treatment of severe obesity. Using a published framework for the conduct of micro-costing studies for surgical interventions, existing cost estimates from the literature are assessed for their accuracy, reliability and comprehensiveness based on their consideration of seven ‘important’ cost components. MEDLINE, PubMed, key journals and reference lists of included studies were searched up to January 2017. Eligible studies had to report per-case, total procedural costs for any type of bariatric surgery broken down into two or more individual cost components. A total of 998 citations were screened, of which 13 studies were included for analysis. Included studies were mainly conducted from a US hospital perspective, assessed either gastric bypass or adjustable gastric banding procedures and considered a range of different cost components. The mean total procedural costs for all included studies was US$14,389 (range, US$7423 to US$33,541). No study considered all of the recommended ‘important’ cost components and estimation methods were poorly reported. The accuracy, reliability and comprehensiveness of the existing cost estimates are, therefore, questionable. There is a need for a comparative cost analysis of the different approaches to bariatric surgery, with the most appropriate costing approach identified to be micro-costing methods. Such an analysis will not only be useful in estimating the relative cost-effectiveness of different surgeries but will also ensure appropriate reimbursement and budgeting by healthcare payers to ensure barriers to access this effective treatment by severely obese patients are minimised.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2179-2192
Number of pages14
JournalObesity Surgery
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2017

Structured keywords

  • BTC (Bristol Trials Centre)
  • Centre for Surgical Research


  • Adjustable gastric banding
  • Bottom-up costing
  • Costs
  • Gastric bypass
  • Gross costing
  • Micro-costing
  • Obesity
  • Sleeve gastrectomy
  • Top-down costing


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