A Microsimulation Model to Project the 5-Year Impact of Using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Ulcerative Colitis Patients Hospitalized for Acute Flares

Dig Dis Sci. 2021 Nov;66(11):3740-3752. doi: 10.1007/s10620-020-06707-3. Epub 2020 Nov 13.


Background: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) improves short-term outcomes for ulcerative colitis (UC) patients hospitalized for acute flares. Longer-term impacts and cost-effectiveness are unknown.

Methods: We compared disease outcomes and cost-effectiveness of HBOT in addition to standard of care versus standard of care alone for UC patients hospitalized for acute flares using a microsimulation model. Published literature was used for transition probabilities, costs, and quality-adjusted life year (QALY) estimates. We modeled 100,000 individuals in each group over a 5-year horizon and compared rates of re-hospitalization, rescue medical therapy, colectomy, death, and cost-effectiveness at a willingness-to-pay of $100,000/QALY. Probabilistic sensitivity analyses were performed with 500 samples and 250 trials, in addition to multiple microsimulation sensitivity analyses.

Results: The use of HBOT at the time of index hospitalization for an acute UC flare is projected to reduce the risk of re-hospitalization, inpatient rescue medical therapy, and inpatient emergent colectomy by over 60% (p < 0.001) and mortality by over 30% (p <0.001), during a 5-year horizon. The HBOT strategy costs more ($5600 incremental cost) but also yielded higher QALYs (0.13 incremental yield), resulting in this strategy being cost-effective ($43,000/QALY). Results were sensitive to HBOT costs and rates of endoscopic improvement with HBOT. Probabilistic sensitivity analyses observed HBOT to be more cost-effective than standard of care in 95% of iterations.

Conclusion: The use of HBOT to optimize response to steroids during the index hospitalization for an acute UC flare is cost-effective and is projected to result in significant reductions in disease-related complications in the long term.

Keywords: Cost-effectiveness; Hospitalization; Natural history.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Colitis, Ulcerative / therapy*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis*
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation* / economics
  • Inpatients
  • Models, Biological*
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years