The development of transcranial MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) has revitalized the practice of lesioning procedures in functional neurosurgery. Previous health economic analysis found MRgFUS thalamotomy to be a cost-effective treatment for patients with essential tremor, supporting its reimbursement. With the publication of level I evidence in support of MRgFUS thalamotomy for patients with tremor-dominant Parkinson’s disease (TDPD), the authors performed a health economic comparison between MRgFUS, deep brain stimulation (DBS), and medical therapy.
The authors used a decision tree model with rollback analysis and one-factor sensitivity analysis. Literature searches of MRgFUS thalamotomy and unilateral DBS of the ventrointermediate nucleus of the thalamus for TDPD were performed to determine the utility and probabilities for the model. Costs in Canadian dollars (CAD) were derived from the Schedule of Benefits and Fees in Ontario, Canada, and expert opinion on usage.
MRgFUS was associated with an expected cost of $14,831 CAD. Adding MRgFUS to continued medical therapy resulted in an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $30,078 per quality-adjusted life year (QALY), which remained cost-effective under various scenarios in the sensitivity analysis. Comparing DBS to MRgFUS, while DBS did not achieve the willingness-to-pay threshold ($56,503 per QALY) in the base case scenario, it did so under several scenarios in the sensitivity analysis.
MRgFUS thalamotomy is a cost-effective treatment for patients with TDPD, particularly over continued medical therapy. While MRgFUS remains competitive with DBS, the cost-effectiveness advantage is less substantial. These results will help inform the integration of this technology in the healthcare system.