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Study estimates cost of uterine transplant

12 April 2021
Appeared in BioNews 1090

A human uterus transplant is estimated to have a total cost of €74,564 on average, according to a new study from Sweden. 

Uterine transplantation has been the only treatment option for infertility where a person doesn't have a uterus or where the uterus doesn't function properly, with the first live birth after a uterine transplant occuring in 2014. However, until now, the costs associated with this operation have not been assessed. 

'In terms of priorities, this study is important because it contributes key data for deciding whether to offer uterine transplants within publicly funded health care,' explained the study author Dr Thomas Davidson at Linköping University, Sweden. 

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, used the nine procedures from the first clinical uterine transplant trial published in Fertility and Sterility in 2014 to calculate the total cost of the treatment on average. This included costs incurred by both the live donor and the recipient. 

The study found that the largest component of the cost of uterine transplant was sick leave, and this part of the total amounted to an average of 25.7 percent. The second largest cost was that of postoperative hospitalisation, which was different for each individual patient as some had to be readmitted due to rejection of the organ, and averaged 17.8 percent. Preoperative costs including investigations and IVF made up 15.7 percent of total costs. This meant that although the average cost of uterine transplant was €74,564, this estimate varied widely between patients. 

Health economics studies such as these are important to assess the cost effectiveness of the procedure and make decisions about future treatment options for patients. Although there were no similar studies to compare the results with, the researchers found that the costs incurred with uterine transplant were similar to those for live donor kidney transplantation.

The costs were calculated from the very first clinical trial of the procedure, which involved meticulous planning and an extensive research protocol. The study authors point out that therefore, the cost is likely to be lower in future clinical settings, and will also vary between countries; the clinical trial in question was conducted in Sweden. 

In the clinical trial, all transplants were from live donors and most of the donors were friends or relative of the recipient. The authors explained that the costs would be lower if the transplants were from deceased donors, as the procedure would be faster and less complicated. 

Looking to the future, the corresponding author of the study, Professor Mats Brännström from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Gothenburg said: 'In all probability, future uterine transplantation will be more cost-effective thanks to the robot-assisted surgical technique we've developed, which means shorter hospital stays and patients returning to work sooner'.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Estimating costs of uterine transplantation
University of Gothenburg |  7 April 2021
First clinical uterus transplantation trial: a six-month report
|  28 February 2014
Livebirth after uterus transplantation
Lancet |  14 February 2015
The costs of human uterus transplantation: a study based on the nine cases of the initial Swedish live donor trial
Human Reproduction |  28 November 2020
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