Clinical outcomes and costs of cataract surgery performed by planned ECCE and phacoemulsification

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To compare clinical outcomes and costs of cataract surgery between patients operated with standard extracapsular extraction (ECCE) and those undergoing phacoemulsification.


Patients from the Ophthalmology Department of a teaching hospital in Barcelona (Spain) scheduled for cataract surgery, not combined with any other ophthalmic procedure.


A retrospective analysis has been performed on a database of 1046 patients undergoing ECCE and phacoemulsification. The outcome measures used were: surgical complications, visual acuity and costs of surgery and of follow-up. Overall rate of all complications and postoperative visual acuity were compared between the two groups, adjusting for age, preoperative visual acuity, medical and ocular comorbidity.


31.9% of the patients (334) underwent phacoemulsification, and 68.1% (712) underwent ECCE. Patients undergoing phacoemulsification presented a frequency of intra- and postoperative complications lower than those undergoing ECCE (odds ratio 0.57, 95%Cl 0.37–0.87 and 0.66, 95%Cl 0.46–0.96, respectively), specifically for intraoperative iris trauma (3.1% vs 0.3%, p = 0.004), residual posterior capsular opacity (2% vs 0.3%, p = 0.035) and postoperative corneal edema (7.4% vs 3.6%, p = 0.016). Costs of intervention and follow-up were lower for phacoemulsification compared with ECCE (23.9% and 14%, respectively). But global costs were slightly higher for phacoemulsification (4.87%), due to supply costs, which were more than twice those ofECCE. Conclusions: Phacoemulsification, when performed by an experienced surgeon, has better clinical outcomes than planned extracapsular extraction, and costs may be lower since supply costs are expected to decrease as the phacoemulsification technique becomes more widespread.

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