Cost-effectiveness of ablation of ventricular tachycardia in ischaemic cardiomyopathy: limitations in the trial evidence base

Open Heart. 2020 Jan 28;7(1):e001155. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2019-001155. eCollection 2020.


Objective: Catheter ablation is an important treatment for ventricular tachycardia (VT) that reduces the frequency of episodes of VT. We sought to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of catheter ablation versus antiarrhythmic drug (AAD) therapy.

Methods: A decision-analytic Markov model was used to calculate the costs and health outcomes of catheter ablation or AAD treatment of VT for a hypothetical cohort of patients with ischaemic cardiomyopathy and an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. The health states and input parameters of the model were informed by patient-reported health-related quality of life (HRQL) data using randomised clinical trial (RCT)-level evidence wherever possible. Costs were calculated from a 2018 UK perspective.

Results: Catheter ablation versus AAD therapy had an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of £144 150 (€161 448) per quality-adjusted life-year gained, over a 5-year time horizon. This ICER was driven by small differences in patient-reported HRQL between AAD therapy and catheter ablation. However, only three of six RCTs had measured patient-reported HRQL, and when this was done, it was assessed infrequently. Using probabilistic sensitivity analyses, the likelihood of catheter ablation being cost-effective was only 11%, assuming a willingness-to-pay threshold of £30 000 used by the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Conclusion: Catheter ablation of VT is unlikely to be cost-effective compared with AAD therapy based on the current randomised trial evidence. However, better designed studies incorporating detailed and more frequent quality of life assessments are needed to provide more robust and informed cost-effectiveness analyses.

Keywords: Markov model; VT ablation; incremental cost-effectiveness ratio.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / economics*
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiomyopathies / complications*
  • Cardiomyopathies / diagnosis
  • Cardiomyopathies / economics
  • Cardiomyopathies / therapy
  • Catheter Ablation / adverse effects
  • Catheter Ablation / economics*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Defibrillators, Implantable / economics
  • Drug Costs
  • Electric Countershock / economics
  • Electric Countershock / instrumentation
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / economics
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Markov Chains
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Economic
  • Myocardial Ischemia / complications*
  • Myocardial Ischemia / diagnosis
  • Myocardial Ischemia / economics
  • Myocardial Ischemia / therapy
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / economics
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / diagnosis
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / economics*
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / etiology
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents