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Costs of obesity

Obesity increases lung cancer surgery time

Lung cancer surgery takes 7.2 minutes longer for every 10 extra BMI points the patient carries.
Obesity adds time and cost to lung cancer operations

Obesity increases the length of surgery for lung cancer, according to a new study published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

The study, performed by Jamii B. St. Julien from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, and colleagues, found that every ten-point increase in the patient’s BMI leads to an increase in operating time of 7.2 minutes.

The study suggests that obesity’s effect on operation time can have significant effect on the cost of health provision. Annual medical costs in the USA due to obesity are already estimated to be around $147 billion.

“With operating room costs at $65 per minute, obesity can become very expensive, very quickly,” stated senior author Eric L. Grogan also from Vanderbilt University.

The study examined outcomes from 19,337 lobectomies recorded in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons’ General Thoracic Surgery Database.

Despite the increased operation time, patients’ obesity had no effect on either 30-day mortality or the length of the resultant hospital stay.

The authors say that operating rooms properly equipped for obese patients, with bigger operating tables and longer instruments, could help shorten operative times.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr David Jones at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville said that the growing obesity epidemic in America would soon require thoracic surgeons, as well as other health care providers, to begin to proactively plan ways to care for obese patients.

“Obesity and lung cancer are two epidemics that are increasingly appreciated as significant threats to length and quality of life,” commented Dr. Jones. “This paper supports the need to more thoroughly examine how obesity impacts health care and resource allocation, particularly in the surgical population.”

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