Purpose: To investigate the cost-effectiveness of carotid endarterectomy (CEA) vs. carotid artery stenting (CAS) in terms of hospital reimbursement.
Methods: A retrospective analysis was conducted of hospital reimbursement for patients undergoing CEA and CAS from 1 January 2008 through 30 September 2010 at a single tertiary referral institution. Hospital cost and reimbursement were assessed using patient-specific data gathered by the institution's cost accounting system. Professional fees were excluded.
Results: Hospital reimbursement data were extracted for a total of 301 cases (169 CEA and 132 CAS). Mean hospital reimbursement was 16% higher for CAS ($12,000±$7372) vs. CEA ($10,160±$6840, p=0.02). However, because of the significantly higher cost of materials necessary to perform CAS, the net revenue for the hospital was 29% greater in patients undergoing CEA ($3487) vs. CAS ($2603). The differences in hospital reimbursement and net revenue were consistent in asymptomatic (n=183), symptomatic (n=123), and urgent (n=36) subgroups. When focusing on cases by diagnosis-related group (DRG) codes vs. current procedural terminology (CPT) codes, the data shifted. Several patients were coded as an outpatient procedure (DRG 0): 28 (21%) of the 132 CAS patients and 7 (4%) of the 169 CEA patients, reducing their mean reimbursement to $4046 and $2513, respectively. If these patients were excluded, the mean hospital reimbursement differential widened between and CEA ($10,515) and CAS ($13,825).
Conclusion: Hospital reimbursement for CAS is significantly higher than that for CEA. While both procedures created net positive income for the hospital, CEA was associated with a 29% higher net revenue due to the 40% cost premium of CAS when looking at all carotid procedures. However, proper DRG coding of CAS cases would have likely resulted in similar net revenue. Asymptomatic patients had the lowest cost and highest net revenue of all the subgroups. Per capita, significantly more healthcare resources were expended with CAS when compared to CEA. Given the lack of improved clinical outcome in most cases, CAS cannot be considered cost-effective for most patients.