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Appl Health Econ Health Policy. 2018 Aug;16(4):527-535. doi: 10.1007/s40258-018-0396-4.

Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Intracapsular Tonsillectomy and Total Tonsillectomy for Pediatric Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

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Department of Surgery-Otolaryngology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, USA.
Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, USA.
Connecticut Pediatric Otolaryngology, LLC, Shelton, USA.
Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Yale School of Medicine, Box 208042, Tompkins East 2, 333 Cedar St, New Haven, CT, 06520-8042, USA.



We performed an economic evaluation using a decision-tree model to analyze the relative cost effectiveness from the United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) perspective of two different methods of tonsillectomy (traditional total tonsillectomy and partial intracapsular) for pediatric obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).


Procedural costs were drawn from published literature and Medicare values. Effectiveness and probabilities were drawn from medical literature. Primary intervention was monopolar-technique total tonsillectomy or microdebrider-assisted partial intracapsular tonsillectomy. Secondary interventions included operative control of hemorrhage, treatment of severe dehydration, or revision tonsillectomy. The decision model starts with pediatric patients with OSA, choosing between total and partial tonsillectomy. Outcomes were measured by costs (US dollars), effectiveness [quality-adjusted life year (QALY)], and a willingness-to-pay threshold of US$100,000/QALY. Base case analysis, probabilistic sensitivity analysis (PSA) and deterministic sensitivity analyses were performed. Primary outcome was incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) for each of the two tonsillectomy techniques.


Base case analysis demonstrated that total tonsillectomy was more cost effective at US$12,453.40 per QALY gained. In PSA, 82.84% of the simulations show total tonsillectomy to be the more cost-effective strategy. Deterministic sensitivity analyses showed that when the rate of OSA recurrence is lower than 3.12%, partial tonsillectomy would be more cost effective. When the failure rate of partial tonsillectomy is below 1.0%, it is more cost effective even when total tonsillectomy is 100% successful.


Study results suggest that overall monopolar-technique total tonsillectomy is more cost effective. However, with varying adjustments for disutility caused by procedural complications, intracapsular tonsillectomy could become a more cost-effective technique for treating pediatric OSA.


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