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Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Oct;27(10):1167-77.

Clinical and cost effectiveness of surgery for morbid obesity: a systematic review and economic evaluation.

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Southampton Health Technology Assessments Centre (SHTAC), Wessex Institute for Health Research and Development, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.



To assess the clinical and cost effectiveness of surgery for people with morbid obesity.


A systematic review of randomised control trials (RCTs), prospective clinical trials and economic evaluations identified from 14 electronic databases (including Medline, Cochrane library and Embase from their inception to October 2001), bibliographies and consultation with experts and manufacturers was performed to assess the clinical and cost effectiveness of different surgical procedures and nonsurgical management for morbid obesity. An economic evaluation was undertaken to assess cost effectiveness in the UK.


People diagnosed as morbidly obese, defined as a body mass index (BMI) (weight in kilograms/height in metres(2)) >40 kg/m(2), or with a BMI>35 kg/m(2) with serious comorbid disease, in whom previous nonsurgical interventions had failed.


The outcomes assessed included weight change, quality of life, peri- and postoperative morbidity and mortality, revision rates and obesity comorbidities. Cost effectiveness was modelled from these data and presented as cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY).


Included studies differed in methodological quality. Surgery resulted in a significantly greater loss of weight (23-37 kg more weight) than nonsurgical treatment, which was maintained to 8 years and led to improvements in quality of life and comorbidities. The economic evaluation of surgery compared with nonsurgical management suggested that surgery was cost effective at pound 11000 per QALY. Comparisons of the different types of surgery were equivocal.


Surgery for morbid obesity appears to be clinically and cost effective. Because of the nature of the evidence, particularly the uncertainty in the clinical and economic evaluations, it is difficult to distinguish between the different surgical procedures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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