Cost-effectiveness of ursodeoxycholic acid in preventing new-onset symptomatic gallstone disease after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery

Sylke Haal*, Maimoena S. S. Guman, L. Maurits de Brauw, Ruben Schouten, Ruben N. van Veen, Paul Fockens, Victor E. A. Gerdes, Rogier P. Voermans, Marcel G. W. Dijkgraaf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The aim was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness and cost–utility of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) prophylaxis for the prevention of symptomatic gallstone disease after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) in patients without gallstones before surgery. Methods: Data from a multicentre, double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled superiority trial were used. Patients scheduled for laparoscopic RYGB or sleeve gastrectomy were randomized to receive 900 mg UDCA or placebo for 6 months. Indicated by the clinical report, prophylactic prescription of UDCA was evaluated economically against placebo from a healthcare and societal perspective for the subgroup of patients without gallstones before surgery who underwent RYGB. Volumes and costs of in-hospital care, out-of-hospital care, out-of-pocket expenses, and productivity loss were assessed. Main outcomes were the costs per patient free from symptomatic gallstone disease and the costs per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY). Results: Patients receiving UDCA prophylaxis were more likely to remain free from symptomatic gallstone disease (relative risk 1.06, 95 per cent c.i. 1.02 to 1.11; P = 0.002) compared with patients in the placebo group. The gain in QALYs, corrected for a baseline difference in health utility, was 0.047 (95 per cent bias-corrected and accelerated (Bca) c.i. 0.007 to 0.088) higher (P = 0.022). Differences in costs were – €356 (95 per cent Bca c.i. €–1573 to 761) from a healthcare perspective and –€1392 (–3807 to 917) from a societal perspective including out-of-pocket expenses and productivity loss, both statistically non-significant, in favour of UDCA prophylaxis. The probability of UDCA prophylaxis being cost-effective was at least 0.872. Conclusion: UDCA prophylaxis after RYGB in patients without gallstones before surgery was cost-effective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1116-1123
JournalBritish Journal of Surgery
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022

Cite this