Economics of elective coronary revascularization. Comparison of costs and charges for conventional angioplasty, directional atherectomy, stenting and bypass surgery

David J. Cohen, Jeffrey A. Breall, Kalon K.L. Ho, Ronald M. Weintraub, Richard E. Kuntz, Milton C. Weinstein, Donald S. Baim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


Objectives. This study was designed to evaluate more closely the true in-hospital costs of elective revascularization by directional coronary atherectomy and intracoronary stenting and to compare these costs with those of the traditional revascularization alternative (i.e., conventional balloon angioplasty and coronary artery bypass surgery). Background. Previous studies have suggested that total hospital charges for directional coronary atherectomy or intracoronary stenting are significantly higher than those for conventional angioplasty. However, hospital charges do not necessarily reflect true economic costs, and their use may provide misleading data with regard to cost-effectiveness. Methods. We analyzed in-hospital charges from the itemized hospital accounts of 300 patients undergoing elective angioplasty, directional atherectomy, Palmaz-Schatz coronary stenting or bypass surgery between January 1, 1990 and December 31, 1991. Costs were then derived by adjusting itemized patient accounts for department-specific cost/charge ratios. Catheterization laboratory costs were based on actual resource consumption, and daily room costs were adjusted for the intensity of nursing services provided. Results. Length of hospital stay was similar for atherectomy (2.3 ± 1.5 days) and conventional angioplasty (2.6 ± 1.7 days) but significantly longer for stenting (5.5 ± 2.6 days, p < 0.05). Total costs were also significantly higher for coronary stenting ($7,878 ± $3,270, median $6,699, p < 0.05) than for angioplasty ($5,396 ± $2,829, median $4,753) or atherectomy ($5,726 ± $2,716, median $4,986). However, length of stay, resource consumption (laboratory and radiologic testing, drugs, blood products, for example) and total costs for bypass surgery were still greater than for any of the percutaneous interventional procedures. Conclusions. In contrast to previous studies utilizing only hospital charges, the in-hospital costs of angioplasty and directional coronary atherectomy were similar. Although the cost of coronary stenting was approximately $2,500 higher than that of conventional angioplasty, the magnitude of this difference was smaller than the $6,300 increment previously suggested on the basis of analysis of hospital charges. These findings reflect the inherent discrepancies between cost-based and charge-based methodologies and may have important implications for future studies evaluating the relative cost-effectiveness of newer coronary interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1052-1059
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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