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Arvin R. Wali, Charlie C. Park, Justin M. Brown and Ross Mandeville

OBJECTIVE

Peripheral nerve transfers to regain elbow flexion via the ulnar nerve (Oberlin nerve transfer) and median nerves are surgical options that benefit patients. Prior studies have assessed the comparative effectiveness of ulnar and median nerve transfers for upper trunk brachial plexus injury, yet no study has examined the cost-effectiveness of this surgery to improve quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). The authors present a cost-effectiveness model of the Oberlin nerve transfer and median nerve transfer to restore elbow flexion in the adult population with upper brachial plexus injury.

METHODS

Using a Markov model, the authors simulated ulnar and median nerve transfers and conservative measures in terms of neurological recovery and improvements in quality of life (QOL) for patients with upper brachial plexus injury. Transition probabilities were collected from previous studies that assessed the surgical efficacy of ulnar and median nerve transfers, complication rates associated with comparable surgical interventions, and the natural history of conservative measures. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs), defined as cost in dollars per QALY, were calculated. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios less than $50,000/QALY were considered cost-effective. One-way and 2-way sensitivity analyses were used to assess parameter uncertainty. Probabilistic sampling was used to assess ranges of outcomes across 100,000 trials.

RESULTS

The authors' base-case model demonstrated that ulnar and median nerve transfers, with an estimated cost of $5066.19, improved effectiveness by 0.79 QALY over a lifetime compared with conservative management. Without modeling the indirect cost due to loss of income over lifetime associated with elbow function loss, surgical treatment had an ICER of $6453.41/QALY gained. Factoring in the loss of income as indirect cost, surgical treatment had an ICER of −$96,755.42/QALY gained, demonstrating an overall lifetime cost savings due to increased probability of returning to work. One-way sensitivity analysis demonstrated that the model was most sensitive to assumptions about cost of surgery, probability of good surgical outcome, and spontaneous recovery of neurological function with conservative treatment. Two-way sensitivity analysis demonstrated that surgical intervention was cost-effective with an ICER of $18,828.06/QALY even with the authors' most conservative parameters with surgical costs at $50,000 and probability of success of 50% when considering the potential income recovered through returning to work. Probabilistic sampling demonstrated that surgical intervention was cost-effective in 76% of cases at a willingness-to-pay threshold of $50,000/QALY gained.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors' model demonstrates that ulnar and median nerve transfers for upper brachial plexus injury improves QALY in a cost-effective manner.

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Arvin R. Wali, Charlie C. Park, David R. Santiago-Dieppa, Florin Vaida, James D. Murphy and Alexander A. Khalessi

OBJECTIVE

Rupture of large or giant intracranial aneurysms leads to significant morbidity, mortality, and health care costs. Both coiling and the Pipeline embolization device (PED) have been shown to be safe and clinically effective for the treatment of unruptured large and giant intracranial aneurysms; however, the relative cost-to-outcome ratio is unknown. The authors present the first cost-effectiveness analysis to compare the economic impact of the PED compared with coiling or no treatment for the endovascular management of large or giant intracranial aneurysms.

METHODS

A Markov model was constructed to simulate a 60-year-old woman with a large or giant intracranial aneurysm considering a PED, endovascular coiling, or no treatment in terms of neurological outcome, angiographic outcome, retreatment rates, procedural and rehabilitation costs, and rupture rates. Transition probabilities were derived from prior literature reporting outcomes and costs of PED, coiling, and no treatment for the management of aneurysms. Cost-effectiveness was defined, with the incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) defined as difference in costs divided by the difference in quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). The ICERs < $50,000/QALY gained were considered cost-effective. To study parameter uncertainty, 1-way, 2-way, and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were performed.

RESULTS

The base-case model demonstrated lifetime QALYs of 12.72 for patients in the PED cohort, 12.89 for the endovascular coiling cohort, and 9.7 for patients in the no-treatment cohort. Lifetime rehabilitation and treatment costs were $59,837.52 for PED; $79,025.42 for endovascular coiling; and $193,531.29 in the no-treatment cohort. Patients who did not undergo elective treatment were subject to increased rates of aneurysm rupture and high treatment and rehabilitation costs. One-way sensitivity analysis demonstrated that the model was most sensitive to assumptions about the costs and mortality risks for PED and coiling. Probabilistic sampling demonstrated that PED was the cost-effective strategy in 58.4% of iterations, coiling was the cost-effective strategy in 41.4% of iterations, and the no-treatment option was the cost-effective strategy in only 0.2% of iterations.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors’ cost-effective model demonstrated that elective endovascular techniques such as PED and endovascular coiling are cost-effective strategies for improving health outcomes and lifetime quality of life measures in patients with large or giant unruptured intracranial aneurysm.