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Cost-utility Analysis of Minimally Invasive Versus Open Multilevel Hemilaminectomy for Lumbar Stenosis

Parker, Scott L. MD*,†; Adogwa, Owoicho MPH*,†; Davis, Brandon J. MD, PhD*,†; Fulchiero, Erin BS*,†; Aaronson, Oran MD*,†; Cheng, Joseph MD*,†; Devin, Clinton J. MD†,‡; McGirt, Matthew J. MD*,†

Journal of Spinal Disorders & Techniques:
doi: 10.1097/BSD.0b013e318232313d
Original Articles

Study Design: Two-year cost-utility study comparing minimally invasive (MIS) versus open multilevel hemilaminectomy in patients with degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis.

Objective: The objective of the study was to determine whether MIS versus open multilevel hemilaminectomy for degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis is a cost-effective advancement in lumbar decompression surgery.

Summary of Background Data: MIS-multilevel hemilaminectomy for degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis allows for effective treatment of back and leg pain while theoretically minimizing blood loss, tissue injury, and postoperative recovery. No studies have evaluated comprehensive healthcare costs associated with multilevel hemilaminectomy procedures, nor assessed cost-effectiveness of MIS versus open multilevel hemilaminectomy.

Methods: Fifty-four consecutive patients with lumbar stenosis undergoing multilevel hemilaminectomy through an MIS paramedian tubular approach (n=27) versus midline open approach (n=27) were included. Total back-related medical resource utilization, missed work, and health state values [quality adjusted life years (QALYs), calculated from EuroQuol-5D with US valuation] were assessed after 2-year follow-up. Two-year resource use was multiplied by unit costs based on Medicare national allowable payment amounts (direct cost) and work-day losses were multiplied by the self-reported gross-of-tax wage rate (indirect cost). Difference in mean total cost per QALY gained for MIS versus open hemilaminectomy was assessed as incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER: COSTMIS–COSTOPEN/QALYMIS–QALYOPEN).

Results: MIS versus open cohorts were similar at baseline. MIS and open hemilaminectomy were associated with an equivalent cumulative gain of 0.72 QALYs 2 years after surgery. Mean direct medical costs, indirect societal costs, and total 2-year cost ($23,109 vs. $25,420; P=0.21) were similar between MIS and open hemilaminectomy. MIS versus open approach was associated with similar total costs and utility, making it a cost equivalent technology compared with the traditional open approach.

Conclusions: MIS versus open multilevel hemilaminectomy was associated with similar cost over 2 years while providing equivalent improvement in QALYs. In our experience, MIS versus open multilevel hemilaminectomy is a cost equivalent technology for patients with lumbar stenosis-associated radicular pain.

Author Information

*Department of Neurosurgery

Vanderbilt University Spinal Column Surgical Quality and Outcomes Research Laboratory

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Matthew J. McGirt, MD, 4347 Village at Vanderbilt, Nashville, TN 37232-8618 (e-mail:

Received December 17, 2010

Accepted August 1, 2011

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.