Objective: To analyze the impact of age at implantation on the cost-effectiveness of cochlear implantation (CI).
Study design: Cost-utility analysis in an adapted Markov model.
Setting: Adults with profound postlingual hearing loss in a "high income" country.
Intervention: Unilateral and sequential CI were compared with hearing aids (HA).
Main outcome measure: Incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER), calculated as costs per quality adjusted life year (QALY) gained (in CHF/QALY), for individual age and sex combinations in relation to two different willingness to pay thresholds. 1 CHF (Swiss franc) is equivalent to 1.01 USD.
Results: When a threshold of 50,000 CHF per QALY is applied, unilateral CI in comparison to HA is cost-effective up to an age of 91 for women and 89 for men. Sequential CI in comparison to HA is cost-effective up to an age of 87 for women and 85 for men. If a more contemporary threshold of 100,000 CHF per QALY is applied, sequential CI in comparison to unilateral CI is cost-effective up to an age of 80 for women and 78 for men.
Conclusions: Performing both sequential and unilateral CI is cost-effective up to very advanced ages when compared with hearing aids.