The suitability of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), compared with coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), for patients with complex multivessel coronary artery disease (MVCAD) remains a contentious topic. While the body of evidence regarding the clinical effectiveness of these revascularization strategies is growing, there is limited evidence concerning their long-term cost-effectiveness. We aim to critically appraise the body of literature investigating the cost-effectiveness of CABG compared with PCI using stents, and to assess the quality of the economic evidence available.Methods and results
A systematic review was performed across six electronic databases; Medline, Embase, the NHS Economic Evaluation Database, the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects, the health technology assessment database, and the Cochrane Library. All studies comparing economic attractiveness of CABG vs. PCI using bare-metal stents (BMS) or drug-eluting stents (DES) in balanced groups of patients were considered. Sixteen studies were included. These comprised studies of conventional CABG vs. BMS (n = 8), or DES (n = 4); off-pump CABG vs. BMS (n = 2), or DES (n = 1); and minimally invasive direct CABG vs. BMS (n = 2). The majority adopted a healthcare payer perspective (n = 14). The incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) reported across studies varied widely according to perspective and time horizon. Favourable lifetime ICERs were reported for CABG in three trials. For patients with left main coronary artery disease, however, DES was reported as the dominant (more effective and cost-saving) strategy in one study.Conclusion
Overall, CABG rather than PCI was the favoured cost-effective treatment for complex MVCAD in the long term. While the evidence base for the cost-effectiveness of DES compared with CABG is growing, there is a need for more evaluations adopting a societal perspective, and time horizons of a lifetime or 10 or more years.