INTRODUCTION: Climate change is one of the 21st century's biggest public health issues and health care contributes up to 10% of the emissions of greenhouse gases in developed countries. About 15 million laparoscopic procedures are performed annually worldwide and single-use medical equipment is increasingly used during these procedures. Little is known about costs and environmental footprint of this change in practice.

METHODS: We employed Life Cycle Assessment method to evaluate and compare the environmental impacts of single-use, reusable, and mixed trocar systems used for laparoscopic cholecystectomies at three hospitals in southern Sweden. The environmental impacts were calculated using the IMPACT 2002+ method and a functional unit of 500 procedures. Monte Carlo simulations were used to estimate differences between trocar systems. Data are presented as medians and 2.5th to 97.5th percentiles. Financial costs were calculated using Life Cycle Costing.

RESULTS: The single-use system had a 182% higher impact on resources than the reusable system [difference: 5160 MJ primary (4400-5770)]. The single-use system had a 379% higher impact on climate change than the reusable system [difference: 446 kg CO2eq (413-483)]. The single-use system had an 83% higher impact than the reusable system on ecosystem quality [difference: 79 PDF*m2*yr (24-112)] and a 240% higher impact on human health [difference: 2.4x10-4 DALY/person/yr (2.2x10-4-2.6x10-4)]. The mixed and single-use systems had a similar environmental impact. Differences between single-use and reusable trocars with regard to resource use and ecosystem quality were found to be sensitive to lower filling of machines in the sterilization process. For ecosystem quality the difference between the two were further sensitive to a 50% decrease in number of reuses, and to using a fossil fuel intensive electricity mix. Differences regarding effects on climate change and human health were robust in the sensitivity analyses. The reusable and mixed trocar systems were approximately half as expensive as the single-use systems (17360 € and 18560 € versus 37600 €, respectively).

CONCLUSION: In the Swedish healthcare system the reusable trocar system offers a robust opportunity to reduce both the environmental impact and financial costs for laparoscopic surgery.

TidskriftPLoS ONE
StatusPublished - 2022 juli 15

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