Objectives: This study sought to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of primary angioplasty for acute myocardial infarction under varying assumptions about effectiveness, existing facilities and staffing and volume of services.
Background: Primary angioplasty for acute myocardial infarction has reduced mortality in some studies, but its actual effectiveness may vary, and most U.S. hospitals do not have cardiac catheterization laboratories. Projections of cost-effectiveness in various settings are needed for decisions about adoption.
Methods: We created a decision analytic model to compare three policies: primary angioplasty, intravenous thrombolysis and no intervention. Probabilities of health outcomes were taken from randomized trials (base case efficacy assumptions) and community-based studies (effectiveness assumptions). The base case analysis assumed that a hospital with an existing laboratory with night/weekend staffing coverage admitted 200 patients with a myocardial infarction annually. In alternative scenarios, a new laboratory was built, and its capacity for elective procedures was either 1) needed or 2) redundant with existing laboratories.
Results: Under base case efficacy assumptions, primary angioplasty resulted in cost savings compared with thrombolysis and had a cost of $12,000/quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) saved compared with no intervention. In sensitivity analyses, when there was an existing cardiac catheterization laboratory at a hospital with > or = 200 patients with a myocardial infarction annually, primary angioplasty had a cost of < $30,000/QALY saved under a wide range of assumptions. However, the cost/QALY saved increased sharply under effectiveness assumptions when the hospital had < 150 patients with a myocardial infarction annually or when a redundant laboratory was built.
Conclusions: At hospitals with an existing cardiac catheterization laboratory, primary angioplasty for acute myocardial infarction would be cost-effective relative to other medical interventions under a wide range of assumptions. The procedure's relative cost-ineffectiveness at low volumes or redundant laboratories supports regionalization of cardiac services in urban areas. However, approaches to overcoming competitive barriers and close monitoring of outcomes and costs will be needed.