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Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2003 Mar;25(3):213-23.

Cost-effectiveness of diagnostic imaging work-up and treatment for patients with intermittent claudication in The Netherlands.

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Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital Groningen, The Netherlands.



to determine the societal cost-effectiveness of various management strategies, including both the diagnostic imaging work-up and treatment, for patients with intermittent claudication in The Netherlands.


a decision-analytic model was used and included probability and quality of life data available from the literature. A cost-analysis was performed in a university setting in The Netherlands. Imaging work-up options included magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), color-guided duplex ultrasound, or intraarterial digital subtraction angiography (DSA) and treatment options were percutaneous transluminal angioplasty with selective stent placement if feasible or bypass surgery. Management strategies were defined as combinations of imaging work-up and treatment options. A conservative strategy with no imaging work-up and walking exercises was considered as reference. Main outcome measures were quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), lifetime costs (euro), and incremental cost-effectiveness (CE) ratios. The base-case analysis evaluated 60-year-old men with severe unilateral intermittent claudication of at least one year duration.


the range in QALYs and costs across management strategies that considered angioplasty as only treatment option was small (maximum difference: 0.0033 QALYs and 451 euros). Similarly, the range was small across management strategies that considered angioplasty if feasible otherwise bypass surgery (maximum difference: 0.0033 QALYs and 280 euros). MRA in combination with angioplasty (6.1487 QALYs and 8556 euros) had a CE ratio of 20,000 euros/QALY relative to the conservative strategy. The most effective strategy was DSA in combination with angioplasty if feasible otherwise bypass surgery (6.2254 QALYs and 18,583 euros) which had a CE ratio of 131,000 euros/QALY relative to MRA in combination with angioplasty.


the results suggest that the imaging work-up with non-invasive imaging modalities can replace DSA for the work-up of patients with intermittent claudication without a substantial loss in effectiveness and a minimal cost-reduction. Management strategies including angioplasty are cost-effective in the Netherlands but although strategies including bypass surgery are more effective, their incremental costs are very high.

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