The cost-effectiveness of repairing ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms

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Although advances in technology have reduced the operative risk of elective abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) repair, the surgical repair of ruptured AAAs is associated with a much poorer prognosis and a higher cost. Accordingly, it has been suggested that patients with predictably high rates of morbidity and mortality from ruptured AAA may not benefit from surgical intervention.

Methods and Results

A cost-effectiveness analysis was performed with the use of a Markov decision-analytic model to compute long-term survival in quality-adjusted life years and lifetime costs for a hypothetical cohort of patients with ruptured AAAs managed with either a strategy of open surgical repair or no intervention. Probability estimates for the various outcomes were based on a review of the literature. Average costs of (1) the immediate hospitalization ($28,356) and (2) complications resulting from the procedure were based on the average use of resources as reported in the literature and from a hospital's cost accounting system. Our measure of outcome was the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio. For our base-case analysis, the repair of ruptured AAAs was cost-effective with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $10,754. (Society is usually willing to pay for interventions with cost-effectiveness ratios of less than $60,000; for example, the costeffectiveness ratios for coronary artery bypass grafting and dialysis are $9500 and $54,400, respectively.) In sensitivity analyses, the cost-effectiveness of repairing ruptured AAAs was influenced only by alterations in the operative mortality. If the operative mortality exceeded 88%, repair of ruptured AAAs was no longer cost-effective. As an independent variable, increasing age had no substantial impact on the cost-effectiveness, although it is reported to be associated with increased operative mortality. It was necessary that the patient's cost of the initial hospitalization for ruptured AAA exceed $195,000 before repairing ruptured AAAs was no longer cost-effective.


Our analysis suggests that despite the high cost and poor outcomes, the surgical repair of ruptured AAAs is still cost-effective when compared with no intervention. The cost of repairing ruptured AAAs falls within society's acceptable limits and therefore should not be a consideration in the management of patients with AAAs. (J Vasc Surg 2000;32:247-57.)

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