Use of platelet-rich-plasma (PRP) injections for treating knee osteoarthritis has increased over the past decade. We used cost-effectiveness analysis to evaluate the value of PRP in delaying the need for total knee arthroplasty (TKA).
We developed a Markov model to analyze the baseline case: a 55-year-old patient with Kellgren-Lawrence grade-II or III knee osteoarthritis undergoing a series of 3 PRP injections with a 1-year delay to TKA versus a TKA from the outset. Both health-care payer and societal perspectives were included. Transition probabilities were derived from systematic review of 72 studies, quality-of-life (QOL) values from the Tufts University Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Registry, and individual costs from Medicare reimbursement schedules. Primary outcome measures were total costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), organized into incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) and evaluated against willingness-to-pay thresholds of $50,000 and $100,000. One and 2-way sensitivity analyses were performed as well as a probabilistic analysis varying PRP-injection cost, TKA delay intervals, and TKA outcomes over 10,000 different simulations.
From a health-care payer perspective, PRP resulted in 14.55 QALYs compared with 14.63 for TKA from the outset, with total health-care costs of $26,619 and $26,235, respectively. TKA from the outset produced a higher number of QALYs at a lower cost, so it dominated. From a societal perspective, PRP cost $49,090 versus $49,424 for TKA from the outset. The ICER for TKA from the outset was $4,175 per QALY, below the $50,000 willingness-to-pay threshold. Assuming the $728 published cost of a PRP injection, no delay time that was <10 years produced a cost-effective course. When the QOL value was increased from the published value of 0.788 to >0.89, PRP therapy was cost-effective with even a 1-year delay to TKA.
When considering direct and unpaid indirect costs, PRP injections are not cost-effective. The primary factor preventing PRP from being cost-effective is not the price per injection but rather a lack of established clinical efficacy in relieving pain and improving function and in delaying TKA. PRP may have value for higher-risk patients with high perioperative complication rates, higher TKA revision rates, or poorer postoperative outcomes.
Level of Evidence:
Economic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.