Indexed on: 11 Mar '05Published on: 11 Mar '05Published in: The Journal of Urology®
Treatment for urethral stricture disease often requires a choice between readily available direct vision internal urethrotomy (DVIU) and highly efficacious but more technically complex open urethral reconstruction. Using the short segment bulbous urethral stricture as a model, we determined which strategy is less costly.The costs of DVIU and open urethral reconstruction with stricture excision and primary anastomosis for a 2 cm bulbous urethral stricture were compared using a cost minimization decision analysis model. Clinical probability estimates for the DVIU treatment arm were the risk of bleeding, urinary tract infection and the risk of stricture recurrence. Estimates for the primary urethral reconstruction strategy were the risk of wound complications, complications of exaggerated lithotomy and the risk of treatment failure. Direct third party payer costs were determined in 2002 United States dollars.The model predicted that treatment with DVIU was more costly (17,747 dollars per patient) than immediate open urethral reconstruction (16,444 dollars per patient). This yielded an incremental cost savings of $1,304 per patient, favoring urethral reconstruction. Sensitivity analysis revealed that primary treatment with urethroplasty was economically advantageous within the range of clinically relevant events. Treatment with DVIU became more favorable when the long-term risk of stricture recurrence after DVIU was less than 60%.Treatment for short segment bulbous urethral strictures with primary reconstruction is less costly than treatment with DVIU. From a fiscal standpoint urethral reconstruction should be considered over DVIU in the majority of clinical circumstances.