Most Expensive Medical Procedures

Updated on September 6, 2021

Undergoing a serious medical procedure is stressful enough without considering the price. Fortunately, having health insurance can significantly reduce the cost of most surgeries. Whether you have one of the Obama care insurance plans or insurance from an employer, here are some of the most expensive medical procedures. 

Heart Transplant

Heart transplants are one of the costliest medical procedures with a price close to $1 million and are very rare. There have been fewer than 70,000 heart transplants completed in the United States since 1988, in large part due to the logistics of getting a donor heart to the patient. When matching a donor heart to a patient, doctors must consider characteristics such as blood type, body weight, and overall health. After a successful heart transplant, patients undergo routine doctor visits and take medications to prevent rejection of the new heart. During the procedure, which usually lasts around four hours, patients are sustained on a heart-lung machine. 

Intestinal Transplant

Costing over $1 million on average, intestinal transplants are given to patients who have a diseased or shortened small bowel. This includes people with chronic conditions such as Crohn’s disease. Specific types of intestinal transplants include small bowel transplants, combined intestine and liver transplants, and multi-visceral transplants. The latter may involve a pancreas, stomach, or colon transplant. The first procedure of this kind was completed in 1987, and only a small number of hospitals in the United States perform this type of transplant. Like heart transplants, these are very rare with only about 100 performed in the U.S. each year. 

Liver Transplant

With costs hovering around $1 million, liver transplants replace livers that no longer function properly with a healthy donor liver. The liver performs many essential functions including processing nutrients, producing bile, removing toxins from the blood, and regulating the immune system. Liver failure may be caused by hepatitis B and C, alcoholism, certain genetic diseases, and diseases that wreak havoc on the bile ducts. One less common type of liver transplant is the domino transplant, where the patient receives a liver from a living donor who has familial amyloidosis. This is a disorder where proteins accumulate in the body and eventually harm internal organs. However, the patient receiving this liver will not experience the effects of this disease for a relatively long time, while the donor with the disease in turn receives a healthy liver. 

Open Heart Surgery

Open heart surgery is a procedure where the chest is opened and surgery is done on the valves, arteries, and muscles of the heart. One common reason for receiving this surgery is coronary heart disease, also known as the hardening of the arteries. During the procedure, doctors use a healthy artery in the heart to create a new path around the blocked artery. After this surgery, doctors recommend that patients eat a healthy diet, not smoke, and control high cholesterol and high blood pressure. 

Hopefully, you will never need to endure any of these procedures. But in case you do, have a good health insurance plan in place to help cover the cost. 

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.