Economic evaluation and randomised controlled trial of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation: UK collaborative trial

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Abstract

Objective

To compare the resource implications and short term outcomes of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and conventional management for term babies with severe respiratory failure.

Design

Cost effectiveness evaluation alongside a randomised controlled trial.

Setting

55 approved recruiting hospitals in the United Kingdom. These hospitals provided conventional management, but infants randomised to extracorporeal membrane oxygenation were transferred to one of five specialist centres.

Subjects

185 mature newborn infants (gestational age at birth >35 weeks, birth weight >2 kg) with severe respiratory failure (oxygenation index >40) recruited between 1993 and 1995. The commonest diagnoses were persistent pulmonary hypertension due to meconium aspiration, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, isolated persistent fetal circulation, sepsis, and idiopathic respiratory distress syndrome.

Main outcome measure

Cost effectiveness based on survival at 1 year of age without severe disability.

Results

63 (68%) of the 93 infants randomised to extracorporeal membrane oxygenation survived to 1 year compared with 38 (41%) of the 92 infants who received conventional management. Of those that survived, one infant in each arm was lost to follow up and the proportion with disability at 1 year was similar in the two arms of the trial. One child in each arm had severe disability. The estimated additional cost of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation per additional surviving infant without severe disability was [pound sign]51 222 and the cost per surviving infant with no disability was [pound sign]75 327.

Conclusions

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for term neonates with severe respiratory failure would increase overall survival without disability. Although the policy will increase costs of neonatal health care, it is likely to be as cost effective as other life extending technologies.

BMJ 1998;317

911-6

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