Hospital costs associated with vagus nerve stimulation and medical treatment in pediatric patients with refractory epilepsy

Lu Zhang, Matt Hall, Sandi K. Lam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Refractory epilepsy is a diagnosis of recurrent seizures that requires multiple resources for optimal chronic management. The disease negatively impacts the lives of affected patients and families and poses an economic burden to the health care system. This study compares hospital costs between pediatric patients treated with antiseizure medications (ASMs) only and ASMs plus vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). Methods: Patients 0–17 years of age who were diagnosed with refractory epilepsy between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2016, were identified from the Children's Hospital Association's Pediatric Health Information System (PHIS) database. Patients treated with ASMs only or ASMs plus VNS were included in the study and were followed 1 year prior and 2 years after meeting pre-determined criteria for refractory epilepsy. The difference-in-difference (DID) approach along with the two-part model was used to compare the changes in mean hospital costs captured in the PHIS database over time between the two cohorts. Results: One thousand one hundred thirteen patients treated with ASMs plus VNS and 3471 patients treated with ASMs only were included. At a follow-up time of 2 years, for the ASMs-only cohort, the adjusted all-cause and epilepsy-related mean annual total costs increased by $14 715 (95% confidence interval [CI]: $12 375–$17 055) and $18 437 (95% CI: $15 978–$20 896), respectively. By comparison, the adjusted all-cause and epilepsy-related mean annual total costs of the ASMs plus VNS cohort increased by $12 838 (95% CI: $8171–$17 505) and $15 183 (95% CI: $10 253–$20 113), respectively. Compared to ASMs only, ASMs plus VNS generated a cost savings of $3254 for epilepsy-related annual costs per year after the index date. Significance: Compared to ASMs alone, ASMs plus VNS is a treatment modality associated with lower annual hospital costs over time. Our study shows that VNS is a cost-beneficial treatment for a national cohort of pediatric patients with refractory epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1141-1151
Number of pages11
JournalEpilepsia
Volume63
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022

Keywords

  • antiseizure medication
  • cost analysis
  • health care cost
  • pediatric
  • refractory epilepsy
  • vagus nerve stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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