Objective: Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a leading cause of adverse visual outcomes in premature infants. Both laser photocoagulation and cryotherapy have been demonstrated in clinical trials to be efficacious in reducing the incidence of visual loss occurring secondary to threshold ROP. Visual data recently have become available concerning the long-term clinical efficacy of both treatments, as have data concerning the utility value of visual states in general. Accordingly, we undertook an analysis to ascertain the cost-effectiveness of laser photocoagulation and cryotherapy in the treatment of threshold ROP.
Design: A computer simulation economic model is presented to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of cryotherapy and laser photocoagulation therapy, compared with the natural course of the disease, for treating premature infants with threshold ROP. The model applies long-term visual data from previous clinical trials, utility analysis, decision analysis, and economic principles, such as present value analysis, to account for the time value of money to arrive at a cost per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained.
Outcome measures: Cost per QALY gained from laser therapy and cryotherapy.
Results: Laser photocoagulation therapy for threshold ROP costs $678 1998 US dollars (at a 3% discount rate to account for the time value of money) for each QALY gained from treatment. Cryotherapy for the same disease costs $1801 per QALY at a similar discount rate.
Conclusions: From the point of view of cost-effectiveness, laser therapy seems to have an advantage over cryotherapy for the treatment of threshold ROP.