Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial observational and randomized cohort participants with a confirmed diagnosis of intervertebral disc herniation (IDH) who received either usual nonoperative care and/or standard open discectomy were followed from baseline at 6 weeks, 3, 6, 12, and 24 months at 13 spine clinics in 11 US states.
To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of surgery relative to nonoperative care among patients with a confirmed diagnosis of lumbar IDH.
Summary of Background Data.
The cost-effectiveness of surgery as a treatment for conditions associated with low back and leg symptoms remains poorly understood.
Incremental cost-effectiveness ratio, reported as discounted cost per quality adjusted life year (QALY) gained in 2004 US dollars based on EuroQol EQ-5D health state values with US scoring, and information on resource utilization and time away from work.
Among 775 patients who underwent surgery and 416 who were treated nonoperatively, the mean difference in QALYs over 2 years was 0.21 (95% CI: 0.16–0.25) in favor of surgery. Surgery was more costly than nonoperative care; the mean difference in total cost was $14,137(95% CI: $11,737–16,770). The cost per QALY gained for surgery relative to nonoperative care was $69,403 (95% CI: $49,523–94,999) using general adult surgery costs and $34,355 (95% CI: $20,419–52,512) using Medicare population surgery costs.
Surgery for IDH was moderately cost-effective when evaluated over 2 years. The estimated economic value of surgery varied considerably according to the method used for assigning surgical costs.