Cost-Utility Analysis of Treatment Algorithms for Moderate Grade Vesicoureteral Reflux Using Markov Models

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Abstract

Purpose

The optimal treatment algorithm for vesicoureteral reflux remains controversial. Previous decision analyses have attempted to determine the best approach solely from the cost or cure perspective but have not combined the goals of minimizing treatment and disease burden. We incorporated these considerations into a contemporary, comprehensive analysis of treatment for vesicoureteral reflux.

Materials and Methods

We examined costs from the perspective of the medical institution, and utility from the perspective of parents of children with grades II and III vesicoureteral reflux. Cost-utility analysis using Markov modeling was performed to ascertain which of 5 treatment algorithms best minimized morbidity and cost. A higher utility value was based on minimizing treatment and disease burden. Measures of treatment and disease burden included duration of suppressive antibiotics, number of invasive studies, pyelonephritis episodes, endoscopic treatments and open operations. All variables were varied spanning realistic ranges during sensitivity analyses to determine threshold values.

Results

The protocol of no antibiotics or followup imaging yielded the best cost-utility for vesicoureteral reflux grades II and III. Sensitivity analysis of variables spanning realistic ranges demonstrated that utility penalties for invasive imaging and outpatient pyelonephritis were particularly important in determining the highest utility protocols, with threshold values ranging from −0.5 to −0.8.

Conclusions

In our models of treatment for vesicoureteral reflux a noninterventional approach constitutes the highest utility and least costly treatment for moderate grade reflux. Given the relative dearth of randomized trials, these analyses provide guidelines for current management of vesicoureteral reflux.

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