Cost-effectiveness analysis reveals microsurgical varicocele repair is superior to percutaneous embolization in the treatment of male infertility Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Introduction: Varicoceles are a common cause of male infertility; repair can be accomplished using either surgical or radiological means. We compare the cost-effectiveness of the gold standard, the microsurgical varicocele repair (MV), to the options of a non-microsurgical approach (NMV) and percutaneous embolization (PE) to manage varicocele-associated infertility.Methods: A Markov decision-analysis model was developed to estimate costs and pregnancy rates. Within the model, recurrences following MV and NMV were re-treated with PE and recurrences following PE were treated with repeat PE, MV or NMV. Pregnancy and recurrence rates were based on the literature, while costs were obtained from institutional and government supplied data. Univariate and probabilistic sensitivity-analyses were performed to determine the effects of the various parameters on model outcomes.Results: Primary treatment with MV was the most cost-effective strategy at $5402 CAD (Canadian)/pregnancy. Primary treatment with NMV was the least costly approach, but it also yielded the fewest pregnancies. Primary treatment with PE was the least cost-effective strategy costing about $7300 CAD/pregnancy. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis reinforced MV as the most cost-effective strategy at a willingness-to-pay threshold of >$4100 CAD/pregnancy.Conclusions: MV yielded the most pregnancies at acceptable levels of incremental costs. As such, it is the preferred primary treatment strategy for varicocele-associated infertility. Treatment with PE was the least cost-effective approach and, as such, is best used only in cases of surgical failure.

publication date

  • September 2014