A recent study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology examinins the cost-effectiveness of MRgFUS treatments for uterine myoma (fibroids)
in the UK. The study found that a treatment strategy starting with MRgFUS for symptomatic uterine myoma is likely to be cost-effective. The first of its kind, the study compared MRgFUS with other treatment options, including uterine artery embolisation, myomectomy, and hysterectomy.
"The purpose of the study was to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of the technology compared to contemporary treatments for fibroids," explains Professor W M W Gedroyc, a Consultant Radiologist at St. Mary's Hospital
NHS Trust and Medical Director of MR Units, as well as one of the authors of this study.
Set-Up Expenses Offset by Improved Quality of Life
Gedroyc points out that "although MRgFUS is a complex technology and initial set-up is expensive (requiring MR and Focused Ultrasound machines), there is such an improvement in quality of life compared to other treatments, that it very rapidly becomes cost-effective over a relatively short period of time."
The study's results show that MRgFUS costs less than the alternative treatments with an average cost saving of about £295 per woman. Using average earnings to calculate time off work increases the cost savings from the MRgFUS strategy by more than £500 per woman. The results also shows a one hundredth increase of a quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) per woman.
Estimated from the perspective of the National Health Service (NHS) Trusts in England and Wales, the cost-utility analysis, included all the costs of recovery and disability for women for whom surgical treatment for uterine myoma (fibroids) was being considered.
The Throughput of Patients Increases Savings
Gedroyc explains that the amount saved depends on the throughput of patients. As the number of patients undergoing treatment increases, the savings also grow. "Current treatments for uterine myoma (fibroids) are expensive too, taking into account the hospital stay, the cost of analgesics, and the post-procedural time off work," he says. The study only took into account women with no plans for future pregnancy. Inclusion of fertility consequences on quality of life may improve the overall cost-effectiveness of MRgFUS.
Data Positively Impacting Healthcare Reimbursement
The results of this study are significant and provide important ammunition for healthcare providers, insurance companies and healthcare trusts looking to get funding for the procedure: "There's no doubt that the study will help with reimbursement. In fact, it's starting to help already," notes Gedroyc. "Healthcare providers are agreeing to cover the cost of the procedure more easily than they did in the past. It's an important part in the acceptance of this therapy as a primary treatment for fibroids and is likely to have impact on NHS policy and NICE guidance."
An Important Step in the Acceptance Process
"Studies of this nature are all part of the acceptance process of a new procedure," continues Gedroyc, noting that cost, followed by efficacy, are critical factors in the acceptance of new treatment methods. "We needed to demonstrate that MRgFUS is as cost-effective, or more cost-effective, than current treatments."
"I hope that the study will encourage physicians to use this treatment more frequently, because it's an easier and faster treatment," he concludes. The study, "Cost-effectiveness of magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound surgery for treatment of uterine fibroids,"
was published in BJOG: International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
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St. Mary's Hospital in London.