Is medical dissolution treatment for uric acid stones more cost-effective than surgical treatment? A novel, solo practice, retrospective cost-analysis of medical vs. surgical therapy
Keywords:nephrolithiasis, uric acid, dissolution, cost-effectiveness
Introduction: Effective medical dissolution therapy (MDT) for uric acid stones is more cost-effective than surgical treatment; however, treatment failure may be associated with increased cost. We aimed to study the cost-effectiveness of MDT for uric acid stones vs. surgical management.
Methods: We performed a retrospective study within our institution of all patients receiving MDT for uric acid stones from 2008–2019. All patients had a known history of uric acid stones, urine pH ≤5.5, and <500 Hounsfield units on preoperative computed tomography (CT). The cost of treatment in the dissolution group was compared to the cost of primary surgical treatment in a theoretical matched cohort. Cost was estimated using local Medicare reimbursement scales. Statistical analysis was performed with SPSS Statistics.
Results: A total of 28 patients were identified, of which 18 were included in the study. Complete and partial dissolution occurred in six (33%) and four (22%) patients, respectively. Five (28%) patients developed symptoms and underwent ureteral stent placement. Ureteroscopy and percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) were each performed in three (17%) patients in whom dissolution treatment was not effective on followup CT. Following dissolution trial, six (33%) patients had residual stone burden requiring surgical intervention. The average cost of treatment, including surgeries, was $14 604 in the dissolution group vs. $17 680 in the surgical cohort. The average cost to achieve stone-free status in patients with complete, partial, or no response to dissolution were $1675, $10 124, and $21 584, respectively, while primary surgical treatment for the same patients would cost $15 037, $10 901, and $20 511, respectively.
Conclusions: Successful MDT is highly cost-effective. Incomplete response to dissolution can stem from several reasons and contributes to higher costs and likely decreased quality of life.
How to Cite
You, the Author(s), assign your copyright in and to the Article to the Canadian Urological Association. This means that you may not, without the prior written permission of the CUA:
- Post the Article on any Web site
- Translate or authorize a translation of the Article
- Copy or otherwise reproduce the Article, in any format, beyond what is permitted under Canadian copyright law, or authorize others to do so
- Copy or otherwise reproduce portions of the Article, including tables and figures, beyond what is permitted under Canadian copyright law, or authorize others to do so.
The CUA encourages use for non-commercial educational purposes and will not unreasonably deny any such permission request.
You retain your moral rights in and to the Article. This means that the CUA may not assert its copyright in such a way that would negatively reflect on your reputation or your right to be associated with the Article.
The CUA also requires you to warrant the following:
- That you are the Author(s) and sole owner(s), that the Article is original and unpublished and that you have not previously assigned copyright or granted a licence to any other third party;
- That all individuals who have made a substantive contribution to the article are acknowledged;
- That the Article does not infringe any proprietary right of any third party and that you have received the permissions necessary to include the work of others in the Article; and
- That the Article does not libel or violate the privacy rights of any third party.