Health Care System Costs Associated with Surgery and Medical Therapy for Children with Drug-Resistant Epilepsy in Ontario

Elysa Widjaja*, Lindsay Demoe, Omar Yossofzai, Astrid Guttmann, George Tomlinson, James Rutka, O. Carter Snead, Beate Sander

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background and ObjectivesImprovement in seizure control after epilepsy surgery could lead to lower health care resource use and costs, but it is uncertain whether this could offset the high costs related to surgery. This study aimed to evaluate phase-specific and cumulative long-term health care costs of surgery compared to medical therapy in children with drug-resistant epilepsy from the health care payer perspective.MethodsChildren who were evaluated for epilepsy surgery and treated with surgery or medical therapy from 2003 to 2018 at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto were identified from chart review and linked to their health administrative databases in Ontario, Canada. Inverse probability of treatment weighting with stabilized weights was used to balance the baseline covariates between the 2 groups. Patients were assigned to presurgery, surgery, short-term (first 2 years), intermediate-term (2-5 years), and long-term (>5 years) postsurgery care phases on the basis of treatment trajectory. Phase-specific and cumulative long-term health care costs were evaluated. Costs were converted from Canadian to US dollars year 2018 value.ResultsThere were 372 surgical and 258 medical patients. Costs were higher in surgical than medical patients for presurgery (3 and 39 weeks), surgery, and short-term care phase, and the attributable costs of surgery per 7 patient-days were $1,602 (95% CI $1,438-$1,785), $172 (95% CI $147-$185), $19,819 (95% CI $18,822-$20,932), and $28 (95% CI $22-$32), respectively. Costs were lower in surgical patients for intermediate- and long-term care phase, and the attributable costs were -$72 (95% CI -$124 to -$35) and -$94 (95% CI -$129 to -$63), respectively. In surgical patients, costs were highest for surgery followed by presurgery care phase, with hospitalizations accounting for the highest cost component. In medical patients, costs increased gradually from presurgery to long-term care phase. Cumulative costs were higher for surgical than medical patients in the first 7 years after surgery, but from 8 years on, costs were lower for surgical patients.DiscussionThis study demonstrated the long-term economic benefits of epilepsy surgery compared to medical therapy for the health care system with the use of real-world data, which would justify the high costs of surgery. The results will support future economic evaluation comparing minimally invasive treatment such as laser therapy to surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1204-E1215
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 22 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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