Background: Transcatheter implantation of the Rashkind PDA occluder is an alternative to conventional surgical closure of isolated patent ductus arteriosus. Neither the clinical outcomes nor the costs of these procedures have been formally compared.
Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study to evaluate the clinical outcomes within a seven-month period for comparable patients with patent ductus arteriosus who underwent either placement of an occluder or surgical closure. The patients were treated between 1982 and 1987 at 14 major North American centers where patent ductus arteriosus was closed predominantly by a surgical procedure or by the occluder technique. To estimate inpatient and follow-up costs, we multiplied the observed use of resources by 1989 unit costs based on hospital-accounting and physician-reimbursement data.
Results: On the basis of cardiac auscultation at follow-up, the initial procedure resulted in closure of the ductus arteriosus in 77.3 percent of 185 patients in whom the occluder was implanted (95 percent confidence interval, 70.6 to 83.1 percent) and 99.8 percent of 446 surgical patients (95 percent confidence interval, 98.8 to 100.0 percent). Second procedures increased the percentage of successful closures to 87.6 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 81.9 to 92.0 percent) and 100.0 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 99.3 to 100.0 percent) for patients in the occluder and surgical groups, respectively. There were no deaths. Major complications occurred in 2.7 percent of the patients in whom the occluder was implanted (95 percent confidence interval, 0.9 to 6.2 percent) and 0.2 percent of the patients who underwent surgery (95 percent confidence interval, 0.0 to 1.2 percent); moderate complications in 16.8 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 11.7 to 22.9 percent) and 15.0 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 11.8 to 18.7 percent), respectively; and minor complications in 11.4 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 7.2 to 16.8 percent) and 24.9 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 20.9 to 29.2 percent). Including the cost of follow-up care, the mean estimated cost per case treated surgically was $8,838 (in 1989 U.S. dollars), as compared with $11,466 per case treated with the occluder technique. Sensitivity analyses based on our data identified no plausible situations in which the costs of surgery and of implantation of the occluder would be equal.
Conclusions: The more effective and less costly surgical procedure was superior to transcatheter placement of the occluder for closure of isolated patent ductus arteriosus. Consequently, our results do not support the wide-spread dissemination of the occluder procedure for the management of this common congenital lesion.