Comparison of Health Care Utilization and Costs Between Patients with Perianal Fistulizing Crohn's Disease Treated with Biologics with or Without Previous Seton Placement

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Fistulas are a common and often debilitating complication of Crohn's disease (CD). Tumor necrosis factor inhibitors and/or seton drainage are effective treatment options. We compared health care utilization and costs for patients with perianal CD who had setons placed before treatment with biologics versus those who did not.


Patients with CD (≥18 yr) were identified from the Truven Health MarketScan Database by ICD-9 code 555.x (January 1, 2006–March 31, 2015); those with external fistulas were identified by ICD-9 codes 565.1. Biological treatment and seton procedures were identified with the National Drug Codes or Current Procedural Terminology codes. Patients were grouped into 2 cohorts: seton before biological (SBB) treatment or no seton before biological (NSBB) treatment.


SBB (N = 326) and NSBB (N = 1519) groups were similar in baseline age, sex, use of immunosuppressants and steroids, and comorbidity score. Baseline prevalence of asthma and cardiovascular disease, and use of antibiotics and 5-aminosalicylic acid were significantly greater in the SBB group versus the NSBB group. Baseline number of all-cause and fistula-related hospitalizations were greater for the SBB group than in the NSBB group. However, during follow-up, the NSBB group required significantly more hospitalizations than the SBB group (all-cause: 0.41 versus 0.23; fistula related: 0.16 versus 0.07) and had significantly greater health care costs (all-cause: $9711 versus $5514; fistula related: $4156 versus $1900). Results were confirmed in multivariate regressions adjusting for baseline characteristics and prescription drug use.


Patients who had the setons placed before treatment with biologics used fewer health care resources and incurred lower health care costs compared with those who did not have the procedure.

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