The cost-effectiveness of autologous transfusion revisited: Implications of an increased risk of bacterial infection with allogeneic transfusion

Frank A. Sonnenberg, P. Gregory, R. Yomtovian, L. B. Russell, W. Tierney, M. Kosmin, J. L. Carson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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BACKGROUND: Previous analyses have found autologous transfusion to be very expensive but have not considered avoidance of postoperative bacterial infections as one of its benefits. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: A cost-utility analysis using a Markov cohort simulation model compared autologous blood transfusion to allogeneic transfusion in a hypothetical cohort of patients undergoing elective total hip replacement with respect to discounted quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and health-care system costs. RESULTS: Assuming a base case rate of serious infection of 3.7 percent, a relative risk of infection of 1.85, and additional costs of $12,980 per infection, autologous transfusion has a cost-effectiveness of $2,470 per QALY. If the relative risk of bacterial infection following allogeneic transfusion exceeds 1.1, the cost-effectiveness of autologous transfusion is less than $50,000 per QALY and if the relative risk exceeds 2.4, autologous transfusion is dominant, resulting in both lower costs and greater QALYs. If there were no increased risk of transfusion, the cost-effectiveness of autologous transfusion would be $3,400,000 per QALY. CONCLUSIONS: If there is only a modest increase in the risk of bacterial infection following allogeneic transfusion, autologous transfusion would result in improved outcomes at a cost of less than $50,000 per QALY. Autologous transfusion would be dominant above a relative risk of infection that is within the range of values observed in randomized controlled trials. However, if there is no increased risk of bacterial infection, autologous transfusion would be a very expensive strategy. Until more definitive data are available on the magnitude and costs of this risk, we advise against prematurely closing the debate about the cost-effectiveness of autologous transfusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)808-817
Number of pages10
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Hematology

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