Cost-utility Analysis: Thiopurines Plus Endoscopy-guided Biological Step-up Therapy is the Optimal Management of Postoperative Crohn's Disease

Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2017 Nov;23(11):1930-1940. doi: 10.1097/MIB.0000000000001233.


Background: Postoperative recurrence of Crohn's disease is common. This study sought to assess whether the postoperative management should be based on biological therapy alone or combined with thiopurines and whether the therapy should be started immediately after surgery or guided by either endoscopic or clinical recurrence.

Methods: A Markov model was developed to estimate expected health outcomes in quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and costs in Canadian dollars (CAD$) accrued by hypothetical patients with high recurrence risk after ileocolic resection. Eight strategies of postoperative management were evaluated. A lifetime time horizon, an annual discount rate of 5%, a societal perspective, and a cost-effectiveness threshold of 50,000 CAD$/QALY were assumed. Deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were conducted. The model was validated against randomized trials and historical cohorts.

Results: Three strategies dominated the others: endoscopy-guided full step-up therapy (14.80 QALYs, CAD$ 462,180), thiopurines immediately post-surgery plus endoscopy-guided biological step-up therapy (14.89 QALYs, CAD$ 464,099) and combination therapy immediately post-surgery (14.94 QALYs, CAD$ 483,685). The second strategy was the most cost-effective, assuming a cost-effectiveness threshold of 50,000 CAD$/QALY. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis showed that the second strategy has the highest probability of being the optimal alternative in all comparisons at cost-effectiveness thresholds from 30,000 to 100,000 CAD$/QALY. The strategies guided only by clinical recurrence and those using biologics alone were dominated.

Conclusions: According to this decision analysis, thiopurines immediately after surgery and addition of biologics guided by endoscopic recurrence is the optimal strategy of postoperative management in patients with Crohn's disease with high risk of recurrence (see Video Abstract, Supplemental Digital Content 1,

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biological Therapy / economics*
  • Canada
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis*
  • Crohn Disease / economics*
  • Crohn Disease / therapy*
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Endoscopy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Markov Chains
  • Mercaptopurine / analogs & derivatives
  • Mercaptopurine / therapeutic use
  • Postoperative Period
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Recurrence
  • Thioguanine / therapeutic use


  • azathiopurine
  • Mercaptopurine
  • Thioguanine