Simultaneous Bilateral Versus Staged Bilateral Carpal Tunnel Release: A Cost-effectiveness Analysis

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine if simultaneous bilateral carpal tunnel release (CTR) is a cost-effective strategy compared with bilateral staged CTR for the treatment of bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome.

Methods: A decision analytic model was created to compare the cost effectiveness of three strategies (ie, bilateral simultaneous CTR, bilateral staged CTR, and no treatment). Direct medical costs were estimated from 2013 Medicare reimbursement rates and wholesale drug costs in US dollars. Indirect costs were derived from consecutive patients undergoing unilateral or simultaneous bilateral CTR at our institution and from national average wages for 2013. Health state utility values were derived from a general population of volunteers using the Short Form-6 dimensions (SF-6D) health questionnaire.

Results: Both surgical strategies were cost effective compared with the no-treatment strategy. Bilateral simultaneous CTR had lower total costs and higher total effectiveness than bilateral staged CTR, and had an incremental cost‐effectiveness ratio of $921 per quality-adjusted life year compared with the no-treatment strategy. The conclusions of the analysis remained unchanged though all sensitivity analyses, displaying robustness against parameter uncertainty.

Conclusions: Surgical management is cost effective for the treatment of bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. Bilateral simultaneous CTR, however, has lower total costs and higher total effectiveness compared with bilateral staged CTR.

Level of Evidence: Economic and Decision Analysis I

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