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Clinical results and cost-effectiveness of radiofrequency and cyanoacrylate ablation compared with traditional surgical stripping for treating varicose veins

Published:November 12, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvsv.2021.10.015

      Abstract

      Background

      Disease of the venous system is an underappreciated public health problem. Minimally invasive treatments such as radiofrequency ablation (RFA) or cyanoacrylate adhesive ablation (CAA) have almost entirely replaced surgical stripping (SS) of the great and small saphenous veins. The purpose of the present study was to compare the outcomes at 3 years after SS, RFA, and CAA by assessing the incidence of complications and reinterventions and performing a cost-effectiveness analysis.

      Methods

      From February 2016 to February 2019, all consecutive patients with symptomatic varicose veins treated at vascular department of two hospitals using SS, RFA, or CAA were included in the present study. The clinical outcomes were measured by quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), complications, and reintervention. A comparison with conservative treatment was also performed. A detailed resource use was recorded for each procedure. All costs were normalized to May 2020 U.S. dollars and euros. Analysis of the data was by the treatment received. All statistical tests were two-sided, and the significance level was set at 5%. Two perspectives of the analysis were considered: the social perspective and that of the Spanish Public Health System. The study period was 3 years. No discount rate was applied.

      Results

      A total of 233 patients were enrolled in the present study: SS, n = 90 (38.6%); RFA, 93 (39.9%); and CAA, n = 50 (21.5%). The number of complications was 11 (12.2%), 3 (3.3%), and 3 (6%) in the SS, RFA, and CAA groups, respectively (P = .06). No patient had required reintervention. The median loss of workdays for the SS, RFA, and CAA group was 15 days (interquartile range [IQR], 10-30 days), 0 days (IQR, 0-6 days), and 0 days (IQR, 0-1 days), respectively (P < .001). The median level of satisfaction for the SS, RFA, and CAA group was 9 (IQR, 8-10), 10 (IQR, 9-10), and 10 (IQR, 9-10), respectively (P < .001). The QALYs was 2.6 years for all three procedures. The median overall cost was €852 (US$926) for SS, €1002 (US$1089) for RFA, and €1228.3 (US$1335) for CAA. The total cost per QALY was €323/QALY (US$351/QALY) for SS, €380/QALY (US$413/QALY) for RFA, and €467/QALY (US$508/QALY) for CAA. The indirect costs were measured by the cost of the workdays lost for each patient and were €1527 (US$1660; IQR, €1018-3054); €0 (IQR, €0-611) for RFA, and €0 (IQR, €0-102) for CAA (P < .001).

      Conclusions

      All three techniques were cost-effective (procedures with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio <€30,000/QALY can be recommended). From the Spanish Public Health System perspective, when considering only the health care costs, the most cost-effective technique was SS. From the social perspective, including the opportunity costs of medical leave, CAA was the most cost-effective technique, saving €1600 per patient, a cost that more than compensated for the savings realized from using SS in direct health care costs.

      Keywords

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