Cost-effectiveness of therapeutic hypothermia to treat neonatal encephalopathy

Value Health. Sep-Oct 2010;13(6):695-702. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4733.2010.00731.x.


Objective: To estimate the cost-effectiveness (CE) of total body hypothermia plus intensive care versus intensive care alone to treat neonatal encephalopathy.

Methods: Decision analytic modeling was used to synthesize mortality and morbidity data from three randomized controlled trials, the Total Body Hypothermia for Neonatal Encephalopathy Trial (TOBY), National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and CoolCap trials. Cost data inputs were informed by TOBY, the sole source of prospectively collected resource utilization data for encephalopathic infants. CE was expressed in terms of incremental cost per disability-free life year (DFLY) gained. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis was performed to generate CE acceptability curves (CEACs).

Results: Cooling led to a cost increase of £3787 (95% confidence interval [CI]: -2516, 12,360) (€5115; 95% CI: -3398-16,694; US$5344; 95% CI: -3598, 26,356; using 2006 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) purchasing power parities) and a DFLY gain of 0.19 (95%CI: 0.07-0.31) over the first 18 months after birth. The incremental cost per DFLY gained was £19,931 (€26,920; US$28,124). The baseline CEAC showed that if decision-makers are willing to pay £30,000 for an additional DFLY, there is a 69% probability that cooling is cost-effective. The probability of CE exceeded 99% at this threshold when the throughput of infants was increased to reflect the national incidence of neonatal encephalopathy or when the time horizon of the economic evaluation was extended to 18 years after birth.

Conclusions: The probability that cooling is a cost-effective treatment for neonatal encephalopathy is finely balanced over the first 18 months after birth but increases substantially when national incidence data or an extended time horizon are considered.

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia, Induced / economics*
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain / congenital
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain / economics*
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain / therapy*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Models, Economic
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome