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Arch Intern Med. 2012 Aug 13;172(15):1145-52. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3093.

Use of drug-eluting stents as a function of predicted benefit: clinical and economic implications of current practice.

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  • 1Cardiovascular Division, Department of Medicine, Barnes Jewish Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri, USA.



Benefits of drug-eluting stents (DES) in percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) are greatest in those at the highest risk of target-vessel revascularization (TVR). Drug-eluting stents cost more than bare-metal stents (BMS) and necessitate prolonged dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT), which increases costs, bleeding risk, and risk of complications if DAPT is prematurely discontinued. Our objective was to assess whether DES are preferentially used in patients with higher predicted TVR risk and to estimate if lower use of DES in low-TVR-risk patients would be more cost-effective than the existing DES use pattern.


We analyzed more than 1.5 million PCI procedures in the National Cardiovascular Data Registry (NCDR) CathPCI registry from 2004 through 2010 and estimated 1-year TVR risk with BMS using a validated model. We examined the association between TVR risk and DES use and the cost-effectiveness of lower DES use in low-TVR-risk patients (50% less DES use among patients with <10% TVR risk) compared with existing DES use.


There was marked variation in physicians' use of DES (range 2%-100%). Use of DES was high across all predicted TVR risk categories (73.9% in TVR risk <10%; 78.0% in TVR risk 10%-20%; and 83.2% in TVR risk >20%), with a modest relationship between TVR risk and DES use (relative risk, 1.005 per 1% increase in TVR risk [95% CI, 1.005-1.006]). Reducing DES use by 50% in low-TVR-risk patients was projected to lower US health care costs by $205 million per year while increasing the overall TVR event rate by 0.5% (95% CI, 0.49%-0.51%) in absolute terms.


Use of DES in the United States varies widely among physicians, with only a modest correlation to patients' risk of restenosis. Less DES use among patients with low risk of restenosis has the potential for significant cost savings for the US health care system while minimally increasing restenosis events.

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