The health economic evaluation of bariatric surgery versus a community weight management intervention analysis from the idiopathic intracranial hypertension weight trial (IIH:WT)

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Background: The Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension Weight Trial (IIH:WT) established the efficacy of bariatric surgery as compared to a community weight management intervention in reducing intracranial pressure in active IIH. The aim of this cost-effectiveness analysis was to evaluate the economic impact of these weight loss treatments for IIH.

Methods: IIH:WT was a five-year randomised, controlled, parallel group, multicentre trial in the United Kingdom, where participants with active IIH and a body mass index ≥35 kg/m2 were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive access to bariatric surgery or a community weight management intervention. All clinical and quality of life data was recorded at baseline, 12 and 24 months. Economic evaluation was performed to assess health-care costs and cost-effectiveness. Evaluations were established on an intention to treat principle, followed by a sensitivity analysis using a per protocol analysis.

Results: The mean total health care costs were GBP 1353 for the community weight management arm and GBP 5400 for the bariatric surgery arm over 24 months. The majority of costs for the bariatric surgery arm relate to the surgical procedure itself. The 85% who underwent bariatric surgery achieved a 12.5% reduction in intracranial pressure at 24 months as compared to 39% in the community weight management arm; a mean difference of 45% in favour of bariatric surgery. The cost effectiveness of bariatric surgery improved over time.

Conclusions: The IIH:WT was the first to compare the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of bariatric surgery with community weight management interventions in the setting of a randomised control trial. The cost-effectiveness of bariatric surgery improved over time and therefore the incremental cost of surgery when offset against the incremental reduction of intracranial pressure improved after 24 months, as compared with 12 months follow up.


Original languageEnglish
Article number409
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2021


  • bariatric surgery, cost-effectiveness, headache, health care system, intracranial pressure, national health service, obesity, papilloedema, pseudotumor cerebri, randomised control trial