Cooled radiofrequency ablation of the genicular nerves for chronic pain due to osteoarthritis of the knee: a cost-effectiveness analysis compared with intra-articular hyaluronan injections based on trial data

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



BMC musculoskeletal disorders








CRFA; Cost-utility analysis; Economic analysis; Hyaluronan; Osteoarthritis; QALY


BACKGROUND: Effective symptom control in painful knee osteoarthritis (OA) may improve patient quality of life. In a randomised crossover trial (NCT03381248), COOLIEF* cooled radiofrequency ablation (CRFA) reduced pain and stiffness and improved physical function and quality of life compared with intra-articular hyaluronan (HA) injections. The present study aimed to establish the cost effectiveness of CRFA versus intra-articular HA injections for treating moderate-to-severe OA knee pain from a US Medicare perspective. METHODS: We conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis using utility data (EQ-5D) from the randomised crossover trial of CRFA versus intra-articular HA injections, which had follow-ups at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months. Patients in the HA group with unsatisfactory outcomes (e.g., continued pain) at 6 months could cross over to CRFA. Economic analysis outcomes included quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), costs, and cost effectiveness (cost per QALY gained). Base-case analyses were modelled on a 6-month time horizon (to trial crossover). Due to limited trial data in the HA arm beyond 6 months, scenarios explored potential outcomes to 12 months if: 1) Utility with HA persisted for a further 6 months; 2) A second HA injection was received at 6 months and achieved the same utility change for the second 6 months. In both scenarios, the CRFA arm used trial data for patients who received CRFA from baseline to 12 months. Alternative costing scenarios were also explored. RESULTS: CRFA resulted in an incremental QALY gain of 0.020 at an incremental cost of US$1707, equating to an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of US$84,392 per QALY over 6 months, versus intra-articular HA injections. Extending the analysis to 12 months and assuming persistence in utility in the HA arm resulted in a larger utility gain for CRFA (0.056 QALYs) and a lower ICER of US$30,275 per QALY. If patients received a second HA injection, the incremental benefit of CRFA out to 12 months was reduced (QALY gain 0.043) but was offset by the costs of the second HA injection (incremental cost US$832). This resulted in an ICER of US$19,316 per QALY. CONCLUSIONS: CRFA is a cost-effective treatment option for patients with OA-related knee pain considering the typical US threshold of US$100,000/QALY.


Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine