Current Issue - December 2021 - Vol 24 Issue 8


  1. 2021;24;E1205-E1218Cost-effectiveness of Radiofrequency Denervation for Zygapophyseal Joint Pain
    Observational Study
    Johan Hambraeus, MD, Anni-Maria Pulkki-Brannstrom, PhD, and Lars Lindholm, PhD.

BACKGROUND: Chronic pain is a leading cause of disability. Radiofrequency denervation (RFD) is effective when performed according to guidelines for patients with correctly diagnosed zygapophyseal joint pain (ZJP). However, the cost-effectiveness of this method has not been fully explored.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to analyze whether RFD is cost-effective for ZJP from a societal perspective.

STUDY DESIGN: Cost effectiveness study based on an observational study.

SETTING: An interventional pain management clinic in central Sweden.

METHODS: Patients - This cost-effectiveness study was performed for all patients (n = 873) assessed between 2010 and 2016 at a specialized interventional pain clinic in Sweden. Those diagnosed with ZJP (n = 331, 37.9%) were treated with RFD and followed up for 1 year after the RFD. Using data collected from national registers, we determined the health care costs, medication costs, the patients’ time and travel costs, and the patients’ ability to work. The effects of RFD on quality-adjusted life years (QALY) and cost/QALY gained were calculated.

RESULTS: On average, patients reported very low health-related quality of life (HRQoL; EQ-5D index: 0.212). After RFD, HRQoL increased significantly to 0.530 (P < 0.0001). Drug consumption and specialized health care consumption were reduced by 54% and 81%, respectively, and the cost/QALY gained from a societal perspective was 221,324 Swedish krona (USD ~26,008). The sensitivity analysis showed that the treatment was cost-effective in all scenarios evaluated, using the patients as their own controls. The cost/QALY gained from a health care perspective was 72,749 Swedish krona (USD ~8,548).

LIMITATIONS: The results are based on data collected at one center. The results need to be compared with those from pain rehabilitation programs and should be confirmed using data from other centers.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients referred for RFD in Sweden report extremely low HRQoL. HRQoL significantly increased following RFD in patients with ZJP. Medications and health care consumption decreased after RFD. RFD was cost-effective, and the sensitivity analysis yielded stable results in different scenarios. Therefore, RFD is a cost-effective treatment that meets the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare criteria for a high priority treatment.

Trial Registration: The study was registered at (NCT01835704) with Protocol ID SE-Dnr-2012-446-31M-1.

KEY WORDS: Chronic pain, interventional pain management, zygapophyseal joint pain, radiofrequency denervation, cost-effectiveness, QALY gained