Objective: To assess the cost-effectiveness of radiofrequency catheter ablation (RFCA) compared with anti-arrhythmic drug (AAD) therapy for the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF) from the perspective of the UK NHS.
Design: Bayesian evidence synthesis and decision analytic model.
Methods: A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted and Bayesian statistical methods used to synthesise the effectiveness evidence from randomised control trials. A decision analytic model was developed to assess the costs and consequences associated with the primary outcome of the trials over a lifetime time horizon.
Main outcome measure: Costs from a health service perspective and outcomes measured as quality-adjusted life years (QALYs).
Results: The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of RFCA varied between £7,763 and £7,910 for each additional QALY according to baseline risk of stroke, with a probability of being cost-effective from 0.98 to 0.99 for a cost-effectiveness threshold of £20,000. Results were sensitive to the duration of quality of life benefits from treatment.
Conclusions: RFCA is potentially cost-effective for the treatment of paroxysmal AF in patients’ predominantly refractory to AAD therapy provided the quality of life benefits from treatment are maintained for more than 5 years. These findings remain subject to limitations in the existing evidence regarding the nature of life benefits and the prognostic importance of restoring normal sinus rhythm conferred using RFCA.
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