Cost-effectiveness analysis: percutaneous microwave ablation vs robotic-assisted partial nephrectomy for small renal masses

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Abdominal radiology (New York)




Ablation; Cost; Cost-effectiveness analysis; Partial nephrectomy; Small renal mass


PURPOSE: The majority of newly diagnosed renal tumors are masses < 4 cm in size with treatment options, including active surveillance, partial nephrectomy, and ablative therapies. The cost-effectiveness literature on the management of small renal masses (SRMs) does not account for recent advances in technology and improvements in technical expertise. We aim to perform a cost-effectiveness analysis for percutaneous microwave ablation (MWA) and robotic-assisted partial nephrectomy (RA-PN) for the treatment of SRMs. METHODS: We created a decision analytic Markov model depicting management of the SRM incorporating costs, health utilities, and probabilities of complications and recurrence as model inputs using TreeAge. A willingness to pay (WTP) threshold of $100,000 and a lifetime horizon were used. Probabilistic and one-way sensitivity analyses were performed. RESULTS: Percutaneous MWA was the preferred treatment modality. MWA dominated RA-PN, meaning it resulted in more quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) at a lower cost. Cost-effectiveness analysis revealed a negative Incremental Cost-Effectiveness Ratio (ICER), indicating dominance of MWA. The model revealed MWA had a mean cost of $8,507 and 12.51 QALYs. RA-PN had a mean cost of $21,521 and 12.43 QALYs. Relative preference of MWA was robust to sensitivity analysis of all other variables. Patient starting age and cost of RA-PN had the most dramatic impact on ICER. CONCLUSION: MWA is more cost-effective for the treatment of SRM when compared with RA-PN and accounting for complication and recurrence risk.


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