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J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2012 Mar;23(3):306-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jvir.2011.11.016. Epub 2012 Jan 25.

Interventional radiologic treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma-a cost analysis from the payer perspective.

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Department of Radiology, University of Colorado, Aurora, CO 80045, USA.



To determine whether there is a cost advantage for one of the three commonly performed interventional radiology (IR) procedures (chemoembolization, selective internal radiation therapy [SIRT], radiofrequency ablation [RFA]) in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).


A cost analysis from the payer perspective was performed. Primary data were collected from a university hospital, and sensitivity testing was done by comparing coding information obtained at two other tertiary care medical facilities. Medicare allowable reimbursements were used to estimate costs. Decision analytic models using decision tree analysis and Monte Carlo simulations were used to compare alternatives. Simulations were performed comparing all three procedures, followed by a two-way comparison of chemoembolization and SIRT.


Simple decision tree analyses showed that RFA was less expensive compared with chemoembolization and SIRT. Monte Carlo simulations showed average reimbursements for each of the three procedures that was largely dependent on the number of repeat procedures required ($9,362 vs $30,107 vs $35,629 for RFA, chemoembolization, and SIRT; P < .001). When comparing only chemoembolization and SIRT, chemoembolization was the lower cost strategy in most scenarios, but SIRT was lower in cost in more than one-third of the simulations.


RFA was the least costly of the three IR strategies in nearly all scenarios studied in these models. Although chemoembolization was less expensive than SIRT in most instances, Monte Carlo simulation showed a preference for SIRT in more than one-third of all scenarios. Sensitivity analyses showed that the most important variables assessed were the need for repeat procedures.

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