How do the costs of physical therapy and arthroscopic partial meniscectomy compare? A trial-based economic evaluation of two treatments in patients with meniscal tears alongside the ESCAPE study

Victor A van de Graaf, Johanna M van Dongen, Nienke W Willigenburg, Julia C A Noorduyn, Ise K Butter, Arthur de Gast, Daniel B F Saris, Maurits W van Tulder, Rudolf W Poolman, ESCAPE Research Group

Published: 01/05/2020


Objectives: To examine whether physical therapy (PT) is cost-effective compared with arthroscopic partial meniscectomy (APM) in patients with a non-obstructive meniscal tear, we performed a full trial-based economic evaluation from a societal perspective. In a secondary analysis-this paper-we examined whether PT is non-inferior to APM.

Methods: We recruited patients aged 45-70 years with a non-obstructive meniscal tear in nine Dutch hospitals. Resource use was measured using web-based questionnaires. Measures of effectiveness included knee function using the International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) and quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs). Follow-up was 24 months. Uncertainty was assessed using bootstrapping techniques. The non-inferiority margins for societal costs, the IKDC and QALYs, were €670, 8 points and 0.057 points, respectively.

Results: We randomly assigned 321 patients to PT (n=162) or APM (n=159). PT was associated with significantly lower costs after 24 months compared with APM (-€1803; 95% CI -€3008 to -€838). The probability of PT being cost-effective compared with APM was 1.00 at a willingness to pay of €0/unit of effect for the IKDC (knee function) and QALYs (quality of life) and decreased with increasing values of willingness to pay. The probability that PT is non-inferior to APM was 0.97 for all non-inferiority margins for the IKDC and 0.89 for QALYs.

Conclusions: The probability of PT being cost-effective compared with APM was relatively high at reasonable values of willingness to pay for the IKDC and QALYs. Also, PT had a relatively high probability of being non-inferior to APM for both outcomes. This warrants further deimplementation of APM in patients with non-obstructive meniscal tears.

Full Access Link: British Journal of Sports Medicine