Background: Although endovenous laser ablation for varicose veins is replacing surgical stripping, proper economic evaluation with adequate follow-up in a randomised clinical trial is important for considered policy decisions regarding the implementation of new techniques.
Methods: Data from a randomised controlled trial comparing cryostripping and endovenous laser ablation in 120 patients were combined to study Short Form (SF) 6D outcome, costs and cost-effectiveness 2 years after treatment. Incremental cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained 2 years after treatment was calculated using different strategies, and uncertainty was assessed with bootstrapping.
Results: Over the total study period, mean SF-6D scores improved slightly from 0.78 at baseline to 0.80 at 2 years for patients who underwent cryostripping and from 0.77 to 0.79 for patients who underwent endovenous laser. QALY (SF-6D) was 1.59 in patients who underwent cryostripping and 1.60 in patients who underwent endovenous laser 2 years after treatment. The costs of cryostripping and endovenous laser per patient were euro 2651 and euro 2783, respectively. Bootstrapping indicated that cryostripping was associated with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of euro 32 per QALY gained. With regard to different strategies, outpatient cryostripping was less costly and more effective 2 years after treatment.
Conclusion: In this study, in terms of costs per QALY gained, outpatient cryostripping appeared to be the dominant strategy, but endovenous laser yielded comparable outcomes for a relatively little additional cost.